Martin Luther King Jr.’s children met for more than 15 hours Monday, ending years of avoidance, family infighting and a long, expensive court trial.
The three surviving children of the slain civil rights leader – equal shareholders of their parents’ multi-million-dollar estate – had not met since before their mother died in 2006 and were at odds over the management of King’s papers and intellectual properties and the handling of estate funds. Last year, Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Bernice King sued their brother, Dexter, who was appointed by their mother to run King Inc., accusing him of improperly taking money from the estate and keeping them out of the loop on key decisions.
In recent weeks, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural D. Glanville ordered the squabbling siblings to meet and try to bang out an agreement to avoid a trial. Others, including civil rights leaders and those interested in seeing the peaceful legacy of Martin and Coretta Scott King maintained, also pleaded with the trio to end their very public legal spat.
On Monday, they obliged.
“This agreement calls for a custodian to help manage our family business,” said Dexter King, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I am still the president of the corporation, as I am sure there will be a learning curve. But the most important thing is preserving the legacy of our parents. …I think it was a very good agreement. No one wanted to see this go to a full blown trial.”
Martin III called the decision one that would make their father proud. "The settlement is very positive overall," said Martin Luther King III. "Our objective is to be involved in protecting the legacy."
Added Bernice, in comments outside the courthouse, where the meeting took place: “Our hope is that we move in a direction of all of us being able to move forward in the governance of the corporation.”