Harry Belafonte Sues to Sell King Papers

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Harry Belafonte

Scribe:  N. Tru Bass

Email: ntb@thethinkering.com


Harry Belafonte is suing the estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Tuesday giving him the right to sell three documents penned by the civil rights leader at auction. 

The lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan seeks unspecified damages and a court declaration.  The documents are outlines of a Vietnam War speck by Dr. King, notes to a speech King didn't deliver in Memphis, Tenn., and a letter to Dr. King’s wife from President Lyndon B. Johnson after the civil rights leader’s 1968 assassination in Memphis. 

In 2008 Belafonte was attempting to sell the papers at Sotheby’s and was stopped by the estate.    

The most ridicules part of this story is auction house Sotheby’s has held the documents since 2008 pending a resolution of the dispute between the estate and Belafonte. 

The lawsuit said king frequently gave drafts and copies of his speeches, letters and working papers to friends and fellow civil rights activists and the that his estate has made a series of “disturbing and illegitimate challenges to Dr. King’s gift-giving” in recent years.  

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