the mayor who saved mlk, jr’s papers

the reasons why atlanta should be grateful for shirley franklin continue to pile up. The new york times has an incredible piece about how the mayor saved martin luther king’s papers from going on auction and ending up god-knows-where.


from the article:

“She [The Mayor] said, ‘How much?’ I told her the price, and she said, ‘O.K.,’ ” recalled Phillip Jones, a King family representative who met with the mayor that day, June 18, to discuss the impending auction of the bulk of the papers belonging to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

shirley then arranged for private financing for a loan of $32 million and saved the papers from going to auction. the papers are headed to morehouse college for now, where they rightly belong.

the mayor has also stated that the deal should bring a civil rights museum in atlanta closer to reality and the papers could serve as a key part of the effort, according to the ajc.

much is written in the ny times piece about the conduct of the king family in this transaction, including this:

Some had said the millions that the collection would fetch at auction was nothing but ransom that would go to the four King children, who have frequently provoked scorn for their handling of their father’s legacy and the nonprofit center here that bears his name. Others had fretted that the collection — 10,000 items, most of which bear Dr. King’s handwriting — would be sold to a private owner and lost to scholars, or to Atlanta, forever.

Count me among that some. dexter’s record managing his father’s legacy is fraught with examples like this. what is particularly galling is this quote of dexter’s in the article:

“I actually felt that if Atlanta really could step up and do this, it would be so wonderful, and I’m personally grateful to the mayor as well as to Ambassador Young,” Mr. [Dexter] King said of Andrew Young, who had been encouraging Ms. Franklin’s efforts. “It really was a community effort, and that’s what I appreciated most about it.”

i love how he says atlanta needed to ‘step up.’ how about you step up, dexter? how about a donation?? i am not sure how your father would have felt about you making $36 million off of the taxpayers of the city of atlanta that he loved so much.

good thing we have shirley. it’s great that king’s papers are coming home to atlanta and i hope they do serve as the cornerstone of the mayor’s vision for a civil rights museum in atlanta.

thanks to the black gay blogger for the tip.

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