Martin Luther King Jr.’s children have charged the foundation that’s building a national memorial more than $800,000 for use of words and images of the slain civil rights leader.
Critics say that King is likely rolling over in his grave over the way his family is handling his effects.
"I don't think the Jefferson family, the Lincoln family ... I don't think any other group of family ancestors has been paid a licensing fee for a memorial in Washington," Cambridge University historian David Garrow told The Associated Press. "One would think any family would be so thrilled to have their forefather celebrated and memorialized in D.C. that it would never dawn on them to ask for a penny." King would have been "absolutely scandalized by the profiteering behavior of his children," added Garrow, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of King.
Financial documents reveal that the foundation paid a whopping $761,160 in 2007 to Intellectual Properties Management Inc., an entity run by King's family; it paid a "management" fee of $71,700 to the family estate in 2003, according to AP.
The memorial, which will built on the National Mall, includes a 28-foot sculpture of King rising from chunk of granite. The money for the project, all private funding, is being raised by the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation.
The King children denied that their demands amount to greed, saying that it is important to make sure that funding for the King Center continues while attention focuses on the memorial.
"Many individuals believe all `King' fundraising initiatives are interrelated and don't donate to the King Center, thinking they have already supported it by donating to the memorial," the statement said.