Warming to his subject, Johnson said, “Who makes a profit off the Lincoln Memorial? Who makes a profit off the Jefferson Memorial?…The King family—or any entrepreneur—should not benefit from saying I want to sell some postcards of the Memorial that’s on federal property.
“My whole point is that’s crazy. Why are y’all jacking with me, knowing I know all this information? All I wanted to do was raise money to build a memorial for your daddy… Let them go out there and take some pictures of Dexter’s house in Malibu, with him living in a large mansion. Y’all trying to raise $170 million for the King Center.”
He noted the King estate had engaged Sotheby’s, the auction house, in 2006 to sell Dr. King’s personal papers.
“They were putting the papers on the auction block,” Johnson recounted. “Shirley Franklin [the former mayor of Atlanta] said, ‘We can’t have that’ and paid the King estate $32 million. Now, the King estate is coming back and saying, ‘Oh, we need $170 million for the King Center. I can even understand that. But what did you do with the $32 million? Is this going to be every time y’all need some money, you’re going to put your hands out to hold someone hostage? They are already charging people for the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”
In a statement, Bernice King said, “While I love my brothers dearly, this latest decision by them is extremely troubling. Not only am I appalled and utterly ashamed, I am frankly disappointed that they would even entertain the thought of selling these precious items.”
Bernice was correct when she said, “Our father MUST be turning in his grave.”
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.