The children of the late peacemaker, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., are in a fight of their lives.
Two of the three surviving siblings were back in court Monday, battling over the estate of the slain civil rights leader. On one side are the Rev. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III; on the other is Dexter King, the administrator of the estate, who missed Monday’s hearing due to an injury at his California home. In their lawsuit, Bernice and Martin III accuse Dexter of siphoning off “substantial funds” from the estate of their mother, Coretta Scott King, and “wrongfully appropriating” money from their father’s estate.
Dexter reciprocated, suing Bernice for failing to relinquish some of her father’s belongings to the estate. On Monday, the court ordered Bernice to hand over the items – which include Martin Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize and his love letters to Coretta – to the court until a decision is rendered.
For years, many in the civil rights community have urged the famous trio to extinguish their long-running feud, warning them that their very public spat is tarnishing the memory of their peace-loving parents. Many of those who marched with Martin Jr. during the tumultuous years of the Civil Rights Movement – including the Rev. Joseph Lowery and former Atlanta mayor and ambassador Andrew Young – attended Monday’s hearing.
Although Judge Ural Glanville dismissed several allegations of impropriety against Dexter during Monday’s hearing, a jury will decide whether he abdicated his responsibility to act in the best interest of the estate. The trial could begin next month.