Dispute holds up memorial to King

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Efforts to build a national memorial honoring Martin Luther King Jr. have stalled because the civil rights leader’s family wants money to use his name and likeness in the marketing campaign.

"They’re asking for something in regard to a licensing fee," said Harry Johnson, president of the memorial foundation. "We’re just trying to walk a fine, thin line."

Last week, Johnson called representatives of the King family to ask about a dollar figure, but he says they haven’t returned his call. Officials at the Atlanta-based King Center for Nonviolent Social Change also didn’t immediately return calls Wednesday seeking comment.

Congress approved a King memorial in June 1998 and set aside land on the National Mall, which already is home to memorials for Franklin D. Roosevelt and Vietnam and Korean War veterans, and is the future home to a sprawling World War II memorial.

Congress authorized King’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, to lead the project and gave it until November 2003 to raise $100 million and break ground. Johnson, who is president of the fraternity, is confident the deadline will be met, though the licensing fee dispute apparently has hampered fund-raising.

General Motors Corp. contributed $750,000 and suggested that a much larger donation would follow. GM spokesman Bill Noack says those plans now are on hold.

"There have been internal discussions of a larger gift, but there has been no commitment," Noack said. "The King family will obviously need to embrace this project for it to go forward."

King’s family is fiercely protective of his name, but also has been criticized for commercializing it.

The family received an undisclosed fee from French telecommunications giant Alcatel, which used King’s image for a TV ad. Cingular Wireless also paid to use part of King’s "I Have a Dream" speech for an ad campaign featuring quotes from figures ranging from Winston Churchill to cartoon character Homer Simpson.

Emory University historian David Garrow, a King family critic, said he isn’t surprised the family wants money for the memorial.

"It just seems par for the course," said Garrow, who won the Pulitzer Prize for the his biography, "Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference." "They see something that looks like it’s going to produce a certain amount of money, and they’re saying, ‘Where’s my cut?’ "

The National Capital Planning Commission has granted permission to put the four-acre King memorial on Washington’s Tidal Basin between and the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.

The design, by a San Francisco-based architectural firm, was selected out of 900 candidates. It features walls, trees and a stone structure at the entrance that will include King’s profile and his "promissory note" passage, in which he calls for freedom and fairness for black Americans.

MLK Memorial: www.mlkmemorial.org

King Center: www.thekingcenter.org

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers speaks to the crowd during an opening ceremony at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County executive pitches $1.66B budget

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced his proposed budget Tuesday afternoon. Public comment is slated to begin Oct. 10.

Most Read