You are here

A King's Ransom

Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., died recently. A hornet's nest of controversy was stirred up by the speech-ifying at her funeral (Malkin, Franken). On a side note, I thought the article in the Miami Herald by Leonard Pitts Jr. was interesting. He pointed out that MLK's family has kind of let him down by commercializing his legacy:

I interviewed Coretta Scott King once. It cost $5,000. There was majesty and grace in Coretta Scott King, a strength of heart that was displayed nowhere more clearly than at her husband's death. Like Jacqueline Kennedy before her, she mourned inconceivable loss with awesome dignity. Since then, she has been a tireless defender of the dream her husband articulated in August of 1963. She shielded it against racism, pessimism and defeatism. She was less successful against commercialism. And I don't mean the piddling $5,000. That's a small symptom of the larger malady. I refer you to the King family's 1993 lawsuit against USA Today for reprinting the I Have A Dream speech and their subsequent licensing of King's image and voice for use in television commercials, one of which placed him between Homer Simpson and Kermit the Frog. Then there's the attempt to sell his personal papers for $20 million. Perhaps most galling was the family's demand to be paid to allow construction of a King monument on the Washington Mall. Yes, it's all legal. But if Dr. King's life taught us nothing else, it taught us that legality and morality are not necessarily the same. I don't mind the King family making money. But not at all costs, and certainly, not at the cost of Martin Luther King's dignity. Granted, dignity is subjective and you might draw the line in a different place than I. But I suspect most of us would agree that when a martyr, minister and American hero becomes a TV character hawking cellphones with Homer Simpson, that line has been well and truly crossed.


Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer