King monument didn’t come cheap, thanks to King family

On the eve of this weekend’s dedication, a reminder of the King kin’s greed (originally posted 4/17/09):

A few years back they sold their father’s words and image to a communications company — “I have a dream … that everyone will use Cingular wirless service.”

This is worse:

The family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has charged the foundation building a monument to the civil rights leader on the National Mall about $800,000 for the use of his words and image — an arrangement one leading scholar says King would have found offensive. …

“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 Cambridge University historian David Garrow, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of King. “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,” Garrow said.

The profiteering has been going on for years, as Cynthia Tucker reported in a 2001 column.

Dexter King, second son of the famous civil rights crusader, had a dream. He wanted to turn his father’s legacy into a cash machine like Elvis Presley’s. So six years ago, he made two visits to Graceland, Presley’s Memphis home, to find out how to turn his dream into dollars. And now the younger King’s vision is finally taking shape.

Images of his father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., are being used in commercials for Atlanta-based Cingular, a cellular telephone company, and Alcatel, a French telecommunications company. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, once a soul-stirring appeal to America’s conscience, is now nothing more than a cheap appeal to the nation’s never-satiated appetite for the latest consumer gadget.

In the Cingular commercial, King’s words are heard alongside those of Kermit the Frog.

The most important dinner in Atlanta’s history

In 1965, a coalition of Atlanta’s political, religious and cultural leaders organized a banquet to honor a native son, the city’s first Nobel Prize winner. The integrated affair was not without controversy, but civic pride and a sense of decency prevailed. You won’t find a better illustration of why Atlanta is not Birmingham, and vice-versa.

A LIFE magazine reporter was among the invited guests.

Some 1,500 persons gathered, Negro and white, banker and yardman, society matron and maid, gathered in an Atlanta hotel to honor both Dr. King, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and the cause for which he won it: the non-violent revolution of the Negro. They sat together and ate together and if there was any discomfort, none showed it. …

The dinner was flawless and ended in an extraordinary scene: southern whites joined in the singing of the hymn of the Negro movement, We Shall Overcome. It suggested an emotional acceptance heretofore unknown in the South.

Tears stood in Dr. King’s eyes. “This is a very significant evening,” he said, “for me and for the South,” and he added, “I am tempted to stay here in a more serene life, but I must return to the valley” … of anger and prejudice. A few days later he was back in his valley leading a voter registration campaign at Selma, Ala. where, of 15,000 Negroes, only 335 are on the voting rolls. The official resistance lacked the onetime Alabama savagery of cattle prods and police dogs. But it was still effective. By late last week, no Negroes had been registered to vote and nearly 2,000 had been arrested in the demonstrations. Among them was King. He lay on a hard bunk in jail reading the Bible and, perhaps, reflecting on his dinner of a few nights before.

a new low for king kin

A few years back they sold their father’s words and image to a communications company — “I have a dream … that everyone will use Cingular wirless service.”

This is worse:

The family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has charged the foundation building a monument to the civil rights leader on the National Mall about $800,000 for the use of his words and image — an arrangement one leading scholar says King would have found offensive. …

“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 Cambridge University historian David Garrow, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of King. “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,” Garrow said.

The profiteering has been going on for years, as Cynthia Tucker reported in a 2001 column.

Dexter King, second son of the famous civil rights crusader, had a dream. He wanted to turn his father’s legacy into a cash machine like Elvis Presley’s. So six years ago, he made two visits to Graceland, Presley’s Memphis home, to find out how to turn his dream into dollars. And now the younger King’s vision is finally taking shape.

Images of his father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., are being used in commercials for Atlanta-based Cingular, a cellular telephone company, and Alcatel, a French telecommunications company. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, once a soul-stirring appeal to America’s conscience, is now nothing more than a cheap appeal to the nation’s never-satiated appetite for the latest consumer gadget.

In the Cingular commercial, King’s words are heard alongside those of Kermit the Frog.

“if you make a dollar, we should make a dime”

Zealous guardians of his words and his likeness, the family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is demanding a share of the proceeds from the sudden wave of T-shirts, posters and other merchandise depicting the civil rights leader alongside Barack Obama.

Isaac Newton Farris Jr., King’s nephew and head of the nonprofit King Center in Atlanta, said the estate is entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees — maybe even millions.

“Some of this is probably putting food on people’s plates. We’re not trying to stop anybody from legitimately supporting themselves,” he said, “but we cannot allow our brand to be abused.”

You’ll recall the King kids sold the right to their father’s “I Have a Dream Speech” to Cingular in 2001.

(T)he money that Cingular and Alcatel are paying to use King’s image will not go to teach schoolchildren how to resolve their conflicts without guns, or to promote coalitions between Latinos and African-Americans, or to raise the wages of hard-working men and women barely making ends meet. The money will go into the greedy, grasping hands of King’s children.

(via Scott Henry)

mlk’s final speech

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of his assassination, Memphis magazine has a timeline of the last “31 hours, 28 minutes” of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, including this passage about his final speech:

10:30 p.m. — King concludes his speech with, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!” and takes a seat, his eyes wet with tears. Honey writes, “Pandemonium swept Mason Temple as people came to their feet — applauding, cheering, yelling, crying.” Another minister observes, “When he sat down, he was just crying. He sure was.” Preachers sometimes cried, but he had never seen King do it. “This time it seemed like he was just saying, ‘Goodbye, I hate to leave.'”

(via The Plank)