It was Harry Belafonte who had a longstanding friendship with the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was Belafonte who stood by his side, offering his Manhattan apartment as a place for meetings. And, again, it was he who often supported the King family during the civil rights struggle. Now, Mr. Belafonte finds himself in the middle of a dispute with Dr. King’s children — Dexter, Bernice, and Martin Luther King III.
On Tuesday, the social activist/actor sued the estate of Dr. King over three documents he tried selling at an auction. The documents — given to him by Dr. King and his widow, Coretta Scott King — were once part of Mr. Belafonte’s collection of memorabilia which sat in his apartment.
One of the documents is a three-page outline for Dr. King’s 1967 speech “The Casualties of the War in Vietnam,” written on a legal pad in Mr. Belafonte’s New York apartment. The second is a letter of condolence from President Lyndon B. Johnson to Mrs. King. The third is an envelope Dr. King had in his pocket the day he was assassinated in 1968. On it he had scribbled notes for a speech he was to give in Memphis. – New York Times
In 2008, Belafonte tried selling the documents at Sotheby’s auction only for Dr. King’s estate to challenge the ownership of the papers claiming they were taken without permission and had belong to the estate. Since then, the sale has been at a standstill and the papers will sit at the auction house until the dispute is settled.