Monday, January 20, 2014

Today Is Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Last week President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation (full text) formally declaring January 20, 2014, as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday. The Proclamation reads in part:
During his lifelong struggle for justice and equality, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions, offered a redemptive path for oppressed and oppressors alike, and led a Nation to the mountaintop. Behind the bars of a Birmingham jail cell, he reminded us that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." On a hot summer day, under the shadow of the Great Emancipator, he challenged America to make good on its founding promise, and he called on every lover of freedom to walk alongside their brothers and sisters.
Meanwhile MLK biographer Stewart Burns has published a new book, Cosmic Companionship, a narrative anthology of Dr. King’s spiritual teaching. (Press release.)

Looming in the background of Dr. King's memory are at least two lawsuits involving family and friends tussling over rights to his papers and words. In a suit filed in August 2013, described by Mother Jones, the King estate (controlled by King's sons Martin III and Dexter) sued the King Center (controlled by King's daughter Bernice). The suit complains about the Center's storage and care of King's property and threatens to terminate the Center's license to use King's intellectual property. In a second lawsuit filed in October (as reported by the New York Times) 86-year old Harry Belafonte sued all three of King's surviving children over three documents of Dr. King's that Belafonte says were given to him by King, King's widow and a close aide. However when Belafonte attempted to auction off the documents for charity through Sotheby's, the King estate wrote Sotheby's challenging Belafonte's ownership of the documents. So Belafonte has sued in a New York federal district court asking for the court to declare him the owner of the documents.