Roland Martin and Joe Williams have an interesting article on rolandmartinreports.com about the controversy.
We had a heated discussion Sunday on “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” about the King children’s interaction with Harry Johnson and the group that raised the money for King monument on the Mall, the first to honor an African-American. In response to my earlier column on the subject, Armstrong Williams wrote a column claiming I had slandered the King family and “For Mr. Curry to spread the falsehood that the King family is charging schools for the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech is not only wrong, but embarrassing to these good people.”
After schooling Armstrong Sunday on the difference between “slander,” defamation that is spoken, and “libel,” which is written, I told him I couldn’t have possibly made that charge because I never used the word “school” anywhere in my column. He waited four months to reply and still didn’t get it right. To his credit, Armstrong acknowledged his error on-air and apologized.
During the program Sunday, Roland said he had spoken with Tricia Harris, a King representative, who said the money paid to the Kings was for corporations that exploited Dr. King’s image and they had not received money from the foundation for using quotes and the likeness of Dr. King.
I said, “She’s lying.”
Harris sent me a note taking exception to my comment and said, “It’s a great American tragedy when influential African-Americans attack the King family for protecting and benefiting from Dr. King’s work when he set it up that way.”
Actually, King, Inc. was created after Dr. King’s assassination. Therefore, he did not “set it up that way.” Second, the licensing agreement does in fact extract a fee from the mall foundation in exchange for using his likeness on materials and quotes at the memorial.
Let’s be clear: No one is objecting to the King siblings profiting from their father’s intellectual properties. The issue is, unlike the descendants of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, they are trying to personally profit from a national monument that honors their father and the struggle he led.
David Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning King biographer, told Roland Martin and Joe Williams: “It’s not as if (King, Inc.) is using any of this income for charitable good deeds. We’ve seen none of that whatsoever. It appears to be simply self-enrichment for a small number of people.”
As great as he was, the March on Washington wasn’t about Dr. King. It was about jobs and freedom. Sadly, 50 years later, we need a similar march that unites our leaders around those same issues.
(George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the NNPA. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, http://www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at http://www.twitter.com/currygeorge.)