I Have a Lawsuit ...

Primary sources exposed and explained.
Aug. 20 2008 3:29 PM

I Have a Lawsuit ...

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After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, his widow, Coretta Scott King, established the King Center for Nonviolent Change in Atlanta and converted King's estate into a corporation ("Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc.") to collect royalties on the civil rights leader's historic writings, documents, and recordings. King's three living children, Dexter, Bernice, and Martin III, are all board members of the King Center and shareholders in the corporation. (Coretta died in 2006.) 

On July 10, Bernice and Martin sued Dexter, who now lives in Malibu, Calif., alleging wrongful removal of funds from Coretta's estate (which Bernice administrates) and mismanaging their father's legacy (see excerpts below and on Pages 2 and 3). On Aug. 18, Dexter countersued his siblings on behalf of the King Center (see excerpts on Pages 4 through 9). Dexter's suit accuses Bernice of founding a Coretta Scott King Foundation ("established to carry on the works of Dr. King and Coretta") in order to "compete with The King Center" (Page 9) and accuses Martin of running "a competing foundation, Realizing the Dream," which has "virtually the same goals as The King Center" (Page 7). Dexter further claims that Martin used the center "to support his own personal causes" such as the presidential candidacy of John Edwards (see Page 5); "commandeered a reception" for the center by turning it "into his own wedding reception"; and "retained … for his own use" a Lincoln Navigator that Ford Motor "donated … to the King Center" in 2004 (Page 8). Despite their father's message of unity, each side in this dispute accuses the other of taking the low road.

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