The embarrassing fight between Martin Luther King’s children over their father’s Nobel Peace Prize and his personal Bible, which was used to swear in President Obama for his second term, moved closer to resolution yesterday when Bernice King said she would turn over the items to the court.
But in a news conference at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both Martin Luther King Sr. and King Jr., the father of the siblings, served as pastors, Rev. Bernice King continued to appeal to her brothers to change their minds about selling their father’s artifacts.
“I appeal to you to reconsider your position and not sell our father’s Bible and Nobel Peace Prize,” Bernice King said in an appeal to Dexter and Martin King III, who were not present. “These two artifacts are too sacred to be sold or be bought under any circumstance.”
The King brothers, who run their father’s estate, filed papers with the court on Jan. 31 asking a judge to order Bernice to surrender the items so that the brothers can sell them to undisclosed entities.
“I implore you to consider the magnitude of this moment in history and how you want your individual legacies to be defined,” Bernice said.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney had a deadline of Wednesday for the items to be placed in a safe deposit box, but at the request of Bernice’s lawyer Eric Barnum, the judge agreed to extend it to Monday.
Bernice, who was joined at the news conference by supporters, said some people had urged her to refuse to hand over the items and choose to go to jail instead, but she said she will comply with the judge’s order.
“It is, deep in my soul, difficult to place what my father described as precious heirlooms under the custody of the government, even if only for a season,” she said. “Yet, I recognize that justice and righteousness are not always aligned, and there is often a disconnect between God’s law and man’s law.”