A Fulton County Superior Court judge decided late Tuesday to appoint a special master to settle a dispute among the children of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King over who has rights to love letters written between the couple.
Their children are on opposing sides of a lawsuit over their mother’s personal papers that could derail a lucrative book deal.
The Rev. Bernice King is in possession of the papers and refuses to turn them over to Dexter King, who heads his father’s estate and has asked for the material for use in a biography about their mother.
New York-based Penguin Group is threatening to pull the $1.4 million book deal this week if the documents are not involved in the project.
Speaking to reporters outside of the Fulton County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon, Dexter King said he was saddened by the family feud, but it was his two siblings who started the drama.
“This is really about a power struggle between siblings,” he said. “I’ve included them, but they’ve excluded me. They’re the ones who are trying to change or rewrite history. This is not something I asked for. This is not something I started.”
Bernice King and Martin Luther King III did not speak to reporters on Tuesday, but did issue a written statement on Monday through their attorney, Jock Smith.
“We are saddened that we are forced to make public statements about family matters that should be handled privately,” the statement read. “However, as our father taught us, we must respond to unjust criticism … Our stand against the publication of the memoirs of our mother … is not merely a family feud but rather our ongoing attempt to protect and maintain the integrity of our mother’s legacy. Although she is no longer here to speak for herself, it is important that the integrity and validity of her voice be reflected.”