Did the King Family Make “Bank” off the Memorial?

Did the King Family Make “Bank” off the Memorial?

Reported documents show that they charged nearly $800,000 for the use of their father’s name and image.

Published September 6, 2011

Information is suggesting that the family of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made some hefty profits from the recently opened memorial.


According to financial documents gathered by the Associated Press, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation had to pay $761,160 in 2007 to an organization run by King’s family, Intellectual Properties Management, for the use of his words and image. The documents also show that a “management” fee of $71,700 was paid to the family estate in 2003.


"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," said David Garrow, the Pultizer Prize winning author for his biography of King and Cambridge University historian told the AP.  "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."


The 30-foot tall memorial made of 159 blocks of granite opened to the public on August 22, 2011.


The family responded to the news organization in a statement saying that proceeds from the licensing agreement go to the King Center in Atlanta where both King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, are buried. The statement went on to say that the arrangement was made to ensure that fundraising for the monument would not undercut donations to the King Center.


Do you think the family was right to charge the King foundation in this situation?



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Written by Danielle Wright


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