A judge in Georgia this week ordered the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible and Nobel Peace Prize to be stored in a safe deposit box that only the court will access until litigation over the items between the slain civil rights leader’s children can be worked out.
Earlier this month, Bernice King said that her brothers were trying to sell two of the family’s most prized possessions. The King brother then filed a lawsuit against their sister since she wouldn’t turn over the items. Fulton County Superior Judge Robert McBurney ordered King’s daughter, Bernice, to turn over the items but did not set a timeline.
“I find that, at this point, that is a fair, equitable balance of the competing interests,” McBurney said.
Lawyers for both sides said after the hearing that they felt the judge’s temporary solution was fair.
William Hill, a lawyer for the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Inc., said the bible and peace prize medal belong to the state under a 1995 agreement in which King’s heirs signed over their rights to many items they inherited from him. Eric Barnum, a lawyer for Bernice, said his client doesn’t believe those items are part of the estate and doesn’t believe her father’s most cherished possessions should be sold.
The three surviving King children are all board members of the estate, and they held a special board meeting in late January to vote on a proposed sale of the bible and peace prize, Hill said in court. They voted 2-1 in favor of the sale, with Bernice being the dissenting vote, Hill said.
“We have one director who disagrees with a properly taken vote of the corporation,” Hill said, repeatedly saying that Bernice has no individual right of ownership to the items.
“You don’t sell the most prized items of the estate. That’s Bernice King’s position,” Barnum said.
Another day, another King family drama. Rest in peace Martin and Coretta.