The daughter of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King said that she has “already won the moral high ground,” and will surrender his Bible and Noble Peace Prize to the King Estate, until a final decision can be made regarding the sale of the items.
Speaking Thursday at a press conference at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Rev. Bernice King said, “I have been led by the Holy Spirit to comply with the court order.” She urged the King Estate, which is run by his two sons Martin Luther King III and Dexter King, “to do what their conscience says is right.”
Last month, the estate asked a judge to order Bernice to return the medal and Bible, which was used to inaugurate President Barack Obama for his second term, to the estate so they could continue talks with entities that want to buy or lease the items. Bernice was outvoted two to one against her brothers to sell the items. Lawyers said Bernice signed a 1995 agreement to turn over the possessions to the estate.
The judge ordered Bernice to surrender the items for safekeeping in a deposit box until he makes a ruling. She refused to give up the items causing the estate’s lawyers to sue her because the potential deals to buy or lease the items were time sensitive.
Bernice appealed to both her brothers and anyone who might consider buying the Bible and Noble Peace Prize to “leave the sacred in its sacred state.” She hasn’t spoken to her brothers since the lawsuit, but says she would be open to settlement so the family can reconcile its differences.
“To my two brothers, whom I love and respect greatly, I implore you to consider the magnitude of this moment in history and how you want your individual legacies to be defined,” she said.
Lawyers for the King Estate declined to comment on the press conference.
A final hearing will take place in September.