by Tyrus Townsend
Does race play a major part in preserving one’s family history? What if you are from one of the most significant lineages this turn of the century? Virginia Beach’s Conservative Examiner article titled, “MLK family makes a fortune from memorial statue…press ignores,” questions the supposed racketeering, committed by the King children, and how they are profiting from their father’s priceless legacy. But what they failed to include was the protection of image, known as copyright, and how it applies to every single aspects of a person’s public life works, whether living or deceased.
“The group which raised the money and built the monument had to pay $761,160 for the right to use King’s words and image. According to the Associated Press, the money was paid to Intellectual Properties Management Inc., an entity run by Dexter King, MLK’s youngest son. That was in addition to the $71,000 in the form of a “management fee” reportedly paid to the King family estate in 2003,” the Virginia Beach Conservative Examiner reports.
Within the body of the article lies a quote from The Associated Press and a recent interview they conducted with historian and King’s biographer David Arrow quoted, “I don’t think the Jefferson family, the Lincoln family [or] any other group of family ancestors has been paid a licensing fee for a memorial in Washington.”
But that was during a different time in history and since then, actually in 1976, copyright laws have been established to ensure protection and compensation of any usage of a recognized work (s). According to The United States Copyright Office, “Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.”
Could this be a result of ill feelings because the King family snubbed the Library of Congress in 1999 for trying to purchase MLK’s papers for the sum of $20 million dollars? Also lawsuits were brought forward against USA Today and CBS News for trying to broadcast MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech” with their permission. Since then, according to the Examiner, “King’s offspring have sold the right to those iconic and uniquely American words to the French telecommunications company, Alcatel.”
The King’s children have made it no secret to protect their father’s images at any and every cost. Maybe this came from a place of, here is a man who gave so much of himself to the public, yet he never really profited in a monetary manner. Dr. King put himself on the line daily, often times in serious life threatening situations, and therefore would have wanted his offspring to reap the benefits of published works in a monetary manner.
So the question is: Are the King children their father’s keeper? Yes they are!