Posted Dec. 9, 2008 – Three important documents written by or related to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., including notes for King’s last, undelivered speech, are slated for auction Thursday in New York, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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Entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, who had a close relationship with the Rev. King and King’s wife, Coretta, put up for auction the papers, which experts at Sotheby’s auction house have estimated in value at between $720,000 and $1.14 million.
Up for auction is “When You Preach on Sunday”; the hand-written notes, for a talk promoting the Poor People’s Crusade as the next step in the movement, were found in King’s suit pocket after his assassination on April 4, 1968; the outline for “The Casualties of the War in Vietnam”; and a condolence letter from President Lyndon Johnson to Coretta Scott King. (Belafonte escorted the widow to King’s graveside after the funeral. Afterward, she gave him Johnson’s letter as a tribute to their enduring relationship.)
The papers are a centerpiece of the future Center for Civil & Human Rights, scheduled to open near Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta 2011.
A consortium of Atlanta businesses and patrons purchased the bulk of the papers for $32 million on the eve of a Sotheby’s auction in 2006. Center director Doug Shipman said in an e-mail Monday that he was unaware of any local pursuit of the Belafonte papers, adding: “We would be very open to someone acquiring and donating to us.”