Sunday, September 25, 2011

MLK "estate" sues Howard Ballou. Who sired these children? Martin Luther King or Don King?

Part I: Coverage of complaint
Part II: Copy of complaint
Part III: History of similar antics by King children & the "estate".

Part I

Attorneys for the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. filed a lawsuit against WLBT anchor Howard Ballou in U.S. District Court in Jackson Thursday. The Clarion-Ledger reported:

"The estate of Martin Luther King Jr. says Jackson television news anchor Howard Ballou has some of the slain civil rights leader's historic documents and other items, and should give them up.

King's Georgia estate has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force Ballou to return the material, which also includes photographs and transcripts.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by Jackson attorney Bob Owens, says the documents and other items are rare and irreplaceable, and are believed to be valued at more than $75,000

Mr. Ballou's employer, WLBT, reported

"Maude Ballou was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s personal secretary when he led the Montgomery Improvement Association in Alabama. They worked together for several years, and Ms. Ballou helped Dr. King establish his Southern Christian Leadership Conference office in Atlanta in 1960.

The two maintained a trusting professional relationship; a handwritten inscription on a book authored by Dr. King reads "To my dear friends Maude and Leonard, whose friendship I will always cherish very deeply." Leonard is Maude's late husband.

During her employment, Ms. Ballou wrote letters on Dr. King's behalf, and he also corresponded with her through letters at times....

In 2007, some of the correspondence, along with transcripts of Dr. King's sermons and other documents, were discovered in storage at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, where Maude and Leonard Ballou worked. The family of Dr. King says Howard Ballou has ownership of those documents now. According to the lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court in Jackson, the property is wrongfully detained by Mr. Ballou, and there's no dispute the documents are Dr. King's property.

Mr. Ballou's attorney, Robert Gibbs, says he was contacted in July by lawyers for the Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., a private company owned by the children of the civil rights icon. But Gibbs says there was no negotiation about giving the items back. "I can tell you there are some things similar to what's described in that lawsuit that are in Ms. Ballou's possession. But these are her documents. We're going to do whatever we can to make sure they remain her documents," Gibbs says.
" Article

The lawsuit claims the items in Mr. Ballou's possession are:

1. A sermon by Dr. King from May 17, 1956 entitled "The Death of Evil Upon the Sea Shore."
2. A transcript of Dr. King's statement the day after the Supreme Court ruled bus segregation was unconstitutional.
3. November 26,1956 newsletter written by Dr. King about the "events related to the Montgomery Bus Boycott".
4. Transcript of Dr. King's speech at Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama on December 3,1956.
5. "A handwritten letter to Mrs. Ballou, signed by Rosa Parks on April 29,1957, "regarding the work of the MIA".
6. Transcript of Dr. King's statement after being arrested in Montgomery, Alabama in 1958 for loitering.
7. "Undated 'Message from the President' authored by Dr. King as the President of the SCLC, bearing Dr. King's signature."
8. "Handwritten letters to Maude Ballou" from Dr. King while overseas regarding his work at the MIA.
9. Transcript of Dr. King's speech to the MIA on December 3, 1959.

Part II

Part III

Unfortunately, the King children have greed for blood as they earned quite a reputation over the years for their shameful treatment of Dr. King's legacy. Repeatedly fighting each other in court. Pimping of the King legacy as everything is for sale. Suing everyone at any time if they even think about Dr. King without paying them for the right to think about Dr. King (For the lawyers, yes, that last phrase was a use of parody and satire as Dexter King may be too stupid to realize it as such.). The lawsuit against Mr. Ballou, one of the classiest and most respected gentlemen in Mississippi, is just one more chapter in the sorry history created by Bernice, the Third, and Dexter. What exactly have they done? Here is the short list:

1. The AP reported in 2009 the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation "the foundation paid $761,160 in 2007 to Intellectual Properties Management Inc., an entity run by King's family. Documents also show a "management" fee of $71,700 was paid to the family estate in 2003." The foundation is operated by Dexter King while Bernice and Martin III sit on the board. You read that right. They charged a licensing fee of nearly a million bucks. The Gawker reported:

"The King kids told the AP that they charged the fees because the memorial's fundraising drive has cut into contributions to their own King Center. According to the King Center's Form 990 tax returns for 2006, Dexter drew a $186,000 salary from the King Center, which also paid $1 million consulting fee to Intellectual Properties Management
." Article

2. Charged CNN money to replay the entire "I Have a Dream" speech. A federal court ruled in 1999 in the Estate of Martin Luther King v. CBS the speech was not in the public domain but a performance subject to copyright laws. Hmmm..... I like this idea. Any of you thinking of replaying my "performances" on the radio? Better open up the wallets.

3. This is a good one. Penguin agreed to a $1.4 million book deal for a book about Coretta Scott King with Dexter King. Bernice and Martin III sued Dexter. Penguin demanded the return of a $300,000 if certain promised documents were not provided to the publisher. Article The deal never materialized but it led to the this fight:

4. Dexter King sued his siblings to get, ready for this?, the personal love letters between Dr. King and his wife so he could use them in a book deal with Penguin. You simply can not make this up. The Atlanta Constitution-Journal reported in 2008:

"Coretta Scott King kept the love letters beneath her bed, in a blue Samsonite suitcase.

The amorous writings of her husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., were among the most cherished possessions of a famously private person, said Lynn Cothren, Mrs. King’s special assistant for 23 years. “That’s why she kept them so close, in her room, underneath her bed.”

The family corporation that Dexter King leads, called King Inc., is seeking a temporary restraining order that would force Bernice King to give the papers to Reynolds. A judge ordered her to bring the letters and photos to court Tuesday, though they are not expected to be shown in court. At stake is the book contract with Penguin Group, the New York-based publisher that has threatened to pull out should Bernice King fail to hand over the papers by Friday.
" Article

5. Not even Obama is immune to the King children's greed. Fox News reported

"The family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is demanding a share of the proceeds from the sudden wave of T-shirts, posters and other merchandise depicting the slain civil rights leader alongside Barack Obama.

Isaac Newton Farris Jr., King's nephew and head of the nonprofit King Center in Atlanta, said the estate is entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees — maybe even millions.

"Some of this is probably putting food on people's plates. We're not trying to stop anybody from legitimately supporting themselves," he said, "but we cannot allow our brand to be abused
." I'm surprised Mr. Farris didn't try to copyright Isaac Newton and the phrase "law of gravity". Article I can see it now, Junior files a lawsuit against Steve Jobs wanting money for the use of Apple.

Think I'm through? Oh no, there is more.

6. Bernice and Three opposed a Martin Luther King museum in Atlanta for reasons Madison County Supervisor Karl Banks will appreciate. Coca-Cola donated land downtown for the museum. The children instead argued it should be located in the Auburn Avenue Corridor, which would just happen to be near (and boost traffic for) the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change. Guess who owned operated that facility? Yup, the King children. Never mind the National Park Service wanted to buy it and said it needed $11 million in repairs as the center suffered from years of neglect. The donated land was worth $10 million at the time and had the support of the Mayor as well as other local leaders. Article

7. Then there is the infamous 2008 lawsuit over the management of the estate of Dr. King. From the British Telegraph:

"Two of King's children have filed a lawsuit against a third, accusing him of misappropriating "substantial funds" from one family account and mismanaging a company they set up to license their father's image and intellectual property.

In the suit, Bernice King, 45, and Martin Luther King III, 50, claim Dexter King, 47, took "substantial" funds from the estate of their mother, Coretta Scott King, who died in 2006, and "misapplied or wasted" assets from the company. Bernice King is the administrator of their mother's estate." Copy of complaint.

The British Times reported at the time: "the estate made $32 million from the sale of Dr. King's papers to the City of Atlanta in 2006. The sale was reportedly necessary "to protect the papers for future generations because of crumbling infrastructure and mounting debt at the King Center in Atlanta"

The case settled. Dexter King kept his title. However, he lost control of the company, King Inc., that manages the estate after the court appointed a custodian to manage the operations. There is more. Just google "Martin luther king children greed".

Are Kings simply concerned children who wish to preserve an important part of American history? Its hard to take that view when they've squandered millions of dollars, exploited the legacy for more millions, and and treated even Dr. King's love letters as something to be sold at auction. Now they want to drag Mr. Ballou through the mud (I've already seen one blog stating he was in possession of "stolen property"). The character and reputation of Mr. Ballou doesn't matter. The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King doesn't matter. The story of civil rights in this country does not matter. All that matters to the King is the King children and everyone else - yes, that includes their mother, father, and all black people - be damned. Mr. Ballou should fight this lawsuit and expose these people for what they are: shameless hustlers who act as if they were sired by Don King, not Martin Luther King.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree!!!
When I heard of this lawsuit, the "Boondocks" episode, when Dr. King comes back and states his disappoints, is the first thing that came to my mind.

Anonymous said...

Tacky and disgraceful. Maybe Jackie Kennedy was right after all... Daddy might not have been a "phony" but the heirs are showing themselves to be just that.

Shadowfax said...

If Howard is in possession of items that were either purloined, borrowed or otherwise found them into the attics of folks who didn't have rightful ownership of them, he should hand them over without a lawsuit having to be filed. Howard must have his eye 'on the prize' though. The money he could have made later off these documents.

I would rather Howard, who I always have thought is upstanding and credible, have said, "If I have things that belong to others, I'll gladly see that they get them. Let's talk."

Anonymous said...

Your Writing is terrible!! Sorry.

KaptKangaroo said...

Stupidity notwithstanding above...

I consider Howard a friend although he may not know it ;-)

I unfortunately am very familiar from my time in Atlanta re: the Kids. Coretta for years tried to manage Dr. Kings legacy and the Kids were always trouble.

For them to take the tact they are taking with a Gentleman of Howard's integrity is appalling. I pray that the legacy of Howard's family is protected and vindicated against this slanderous attempt to collect on many people's sacrifices during the tumultuous 60s.

Mean people (and stupid people) suck.

Kingfish said...

Shadow: the comment I did not allow was fun until the last paragraph. you don't get so slander at will.

5:25: Yeah, it was pretty bad. I threw up a rough draft. I went back and polished it a little but it still needs some work.

Anonymous said...

How is a letter from Rosa Parks to Mrs. Ballou any business of the King estate? And what about personal letters to her from Dr. King? Do they go around the country suing people to whom their father wrote?? Without knowing more, it seems at least those two items on the list most certainly belong to the Ballou family, not the King family.

For Shadowfax, could you consider that these writings were a part of Mr. Ballou's mother's life and history just as much as MLK's, and for that reason alone, may be sentimental to him?? I have kept every scrap of paper pertaining to my late grandmother, not because they have an ounce of monetary value, but because they mean something to me. Why does money have to have anything to do with it? Some things don't have a price tag.

Cosmo said...

Your Writing is terrible!! Sorry.

September 25, 2011 5:25 PM

But you've shown us nothing of your own so STFU.

Anonymous said...

Never surprised by how frequently the insecure JFP interns and neurotic Tom Head post here.

Kingfish said...

That is not what you wrote Shadow so quit lying. Got it? You are lying through your teeth as you accused him of being in possession of stolen property and doing it for money in the comment I would not allow.

Anonymous said...

I say take 'em to "Pawn Stars" and let Rick Harrison handle them. He and the Old Man will get to the bottom of it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Sky King sired them? Come to think of it they ALL look like Penny!

Anonymous said...

What on earth is wrong with Bob Owens and the Owens Moss Law Firm?

He/they should be embarrassed to include #8 and should have explained the law to their clients.

How in the world could letters mailed to a person not belong to the recipient of said letters?

Shadowfax said...

Maybe for the same reasons recipients of gifts sent to employees of some institutions are required to turn those gifts over to the institution. If KF will allow me to complete a sentence without censoring me, I think since the mother might have received the materials as a result of her official capacity with the employer, that could easily affect the ownership policy. Just a wild assed guess though. That's what courts are for.

Anonymous said...

This was absurd when I heard it on the news. To read all of the additional info you have here just makes me sick. What those people have done is incredibly disrespectful towards their father and mother. I feel sorry for Dr. King and Mrs. King because I doubt this was the legacy they wanted or taught to others.

Mr. Ballou is a fine man who has incredible respect for his parents and others. The very idea that these people have sued him is ridiculous. Fight it, Mr. Ballou, you will win and be able to keep your parent's property. You will always have your dignity, something these people seem to have lost years ago.

As to the documents listed
Transcripts (2, 4, 6, 9)-these are transcripts; anyone can get a copy thru court/court reporter or by going through whoever transcribed the document.

Personal letters from one person to another person (5, 8). Huh? I believe this calls for a WTF?

The death of evil sermon (1). Uh, that isn’t something that’s been missing and just discovered, its out there on websites and in books. If they need a copy of that sermon, there’s a few books that have it.

Newsletter (3). If you didn’t save your copy, sorry. Doesn’t mean I got to give you my copy.

Undated 'Message from the President' authored by Dr. King as the President of the SCLC, bearing Dr. King's signature (7). So let me get this straight, if it has the King name on it, its got to be given to the children, whether its theirs or not. Wow, wonder how they are gonna sue everyone on the internet, all bookstores, all websites, everywhere and everybody so they can get anything with ‘King’ on it in their hands.

What a way to tarnish Dr. and Mrs. King. Shame on them.

Shadowfax said...

@3:47; Dr. King actually needs nobody to tarnish him as he did quite an effective job himself. The people who excuse his foibles are the same type who gave B. Clinton a behavioral pass and extolled the manly virtues of Hitler while condemning his madness with a quieter voice. (And save your time if you're about to accuse me of comparing Hitler to King as I didn't do that.)

Ultimate ownership of documents aside, don't give me this crap about children causing the dead to roll over in their graves or parental lessons being unlearned. Puleeeze.

Anonymous said...


Here's my gift [Raising the bird your direction]. Give it back. I own it. And if you give it back without my permission, I'll sue you for copyright violation and let the courts decide if I am entitled to your improper use and assumed ownership of said bird, after you've spent a few thousand in Federal Court.

Shadowfax said...

Great rebuttal there anon 8:59. It's an accepted debate principal that once one replies either with name calling or obscene gestures, he's lost not only his ass, but the debate as well. You have my permission to take the thumb that's attached to your 'bird' sit squarely upon it and oscillate like the gawking pinwheel you've shown yourself to be.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I patented the thumb. Let me present you a second lawsuit. This time, you are using a patented process or claiming use and will have to identify, under your deposition, a clear distinction between full of crap and plain ole' bu11$h1t.

BTW, patented all of the above, way back when, when when was a word worth patenting, because I knew it would be worth something.

Shadowfax said...

Anon 8:01; never let it be said you don't inhale.

Anonymous said...

I love to hear attorneys try to one-up each other with their use of the English language. If you had any concept of efficiency, you could convey the same meaning with 80% less words. Thanks for the entertainment!

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