MLK Siblings Face Atlanta Judge For Rights To Nobel Peace Prize, Bible

January 13, 2015  |  

A fierce sibling rivalry over Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize medal and his personal Bible will pan out before an Atlanta judge on Tuesday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Last year, MLK’s estate — which is controlled by Dr. King Jr.’s sons Martin Luther King III and Dexter King — filed a lawsuit against their sister Bernice King to reclaim the late civil rights activist’s medal and Bible, which are in her possession, so that the estate can sell them both to the highest bidder. “At a hearing last year, a lawyer who represented the estate said the estate needs the money,” Detroit Free Press added.

The Bible, which was used during President Obama’s inauguration in 2013, accompanied Dr. King Jr. during the civil rights movement. As for the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. King Jr. earned it in 1964 for spearheading the Montgomery bus boycott in the mid-1950’s.

Bernice King maintains that her father’s Nobel Peace Prize medal and personal bible are much too invaluable to be sold:

“There is no justification for selling either of these sacred items. They are priceless and should never be exchanged for money in the marketplace,” she said in a statement. “While I love my brothers dearly, this latest decision by them … reveals a desperation beyond comprehension.”

Rev. Timothy McDonald, former assistant pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Dr. King Jr. preached, agreed with Bernice King.

“You don’t sell Bibles and you don’t get but one Nobel Peace Prize. There are some items that you just don’t put a price on.”

But according to Reuters, Bernice King signed a pact in 1995 agreeing to relinquish all control of Dr. King Jr.’s possessions. However, she contends that “her father gave the Nobel medal to her mother during his lifetime, which would mean the King estate does not control it.”

Since last February, the medal and Bible have been safeguarded in a safety deposit box as court ordered by  Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney until the lawsuit is resolved.

“On Tuesday, McBurney will hear arguments from each side on why the court should rule in their favor. A trial is set for February if the case is not settled before then,” Reuters said.

According to two appraisers, Leila Dunbar and Clive Howe, the medal could reel in $5 to $10 million. The Bible, according to Dunbar, is valued at $200,000, perhaps more than $400,000. Howe differs with an estimate of $1 million, Detroit Free Press wrote.

Dr. King  Jr. had no will when he was assassinated 47 years ago. His estate was passed down to his widow, Coretta Scott King, who died in 2006, and his four children, one of whom has also since died, according to legal documents.

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