In what is arguably the hardest blow in the ongoing struggle between the children of Coretta and Martin Luther King Jr., their youngest daughter, Bernice King said Thursday that she is disassociating herself from her brothers.
In a press conference Thursday in Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Bernice King – flanked by cousins, preachers and civil rights workers — told the media to “refrain from grouping me with my brothers.”
“I am not my brothers. I do love them, but we are different people and that should be respected,” Bernice King said. “I love them dearly. I love Martin and Dexter, but we are different people, with different minds and different ideologies and most importantly, different relationship with God.”
King’s emotional comments came at the heels of a lawsuit filed against her by her brothers who are demanding that she turn over their father’s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and personal Bible so that they could sell them.
Last Friday, the brothers filed a complaint in Fulton County Superior Court, asking a judge to force Bernice King to relinquish the items. The complaint says she has “secreted and sequestered” them in violation of a 1995 agreement that gave the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Inc. ownership of all their father’s property.
“It is in the public interest … to uphold and enforce valid contracts and to allow the [King estate] to fully exercise its rights of ownership,” the lawsuit says.
Neither of the brothers have publicly commented on the lawsuit. But The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was able to inspect a Jan. 20 letter from Martin Luther King III to Bernice King, requesting a Jan. 22 meeting.
“The purpose of this special meeting is to discuss and vote on whether to offer for purchase at a private sale of the Nobel Peace Prize and the King Bible. And if the vote is to proceed with such a sale, to identify the person to whom. Within two days of the affirmative vote, the Nobel Peace Prize and the King Bible shall be physically delivered.”
Bernice King said she would not relinquish the items, adding that she is not hiding them.
“They are hidden in plain sight,” Bernice King said. “They know where they are. But God put them beyond their reach.”