Belafonte sues Martin Luther King Jr. estate in NY

 
 
Product: EL NUEVO HERALD -- Date: 20130308 -- Zone: Herald -- Edition: 1st -- Section: Cultura -- Section Letter: D -- Page: 13
Harry Belafonte hizo famosa su interpretación del 'Hava Nagila' en televisión junto al actor Danny Kaye.
Product: EL NUEVO HERALD -- Date: 20130308 -- Zone: Herald -- Edition: 1st -- Section: Cultura -- Section Letter: D -- Page: 13 Harry Belafonte hizo famosa su interpretación del 'Hava Nagila' en televisión junto al actor Danny Kaye.

NEW YORK (AP) – Harry Belafonte sued the estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Tuesday over the fate of three documents he tried to sell at auction.

The lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan seeks unspecified damages and a court declaration Belafonte is the rightful owner.

The documents are an outline of a Vietnam War speech by King, notes to a speech King never got to deliver in Memphis, Tenn., and a condolence letter from President Lyndon B. Johnson to King's wife after the civil rights leader's 1968 assassination.

According to the lawsuit, Belafonte was preparing to auction the items in 2008 when the estate “astonishingly” blocked it.

The lawsuit cited the close relationship between Belafonte and King, saying the pair “worked on strategies and collaborated on issues that would transform American society” while they “forged a deep and enduring personal friendship.” It said King and his widow, Coretta Scott King, gave Belafonte a number of items and it noted that Coretta Scott King, who died in 2006, mentioned Belafonte in her autobiography, saying “whenever we got into trouble or when tragedy struck, Harry has always come to our aid, his generous heart wide open.”

Belafonte said he delivered the documents for auction to Sotheby's Inc. in early 2008 and the auction house has held them pending a resolution of the dispute between the estate and Belafonte.

The lawsuit said Belafonte had held the Vietnam War speech outline since 1967, when King left it behind after working on it in Belafonte's apartment. It said the Memphis speech notes were found in King's suit pocket after he was assassinated. According to the lawsuit, Coretta Scott King offered the notes to Belafonte but he suggested they instead be given to one of King's longest-serving confidants. When that man died in 1979, his widow delivered the notes to Belafonte, it said.

The letter from Johnson was given to Belafonte by Coretta Scott King about a decade ago after she admired the collection of historic documents on a wall of his home, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said King frequently gave drafts and copies of his speeches, correspondence and working papers to friends and fellow civil rights activists and that his estate has made a series of “disturbing and illegitimate challenges to Dr. King's gift-giving” in recent years.

Miles J. Alexander, a lawyer for the Atlanta-based King estate, said he had not yet seen the lawsuit.

“I have no comment I can make right now,” he said.

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  • Throwback Thursday

    Prancercise is back

    She’s back ... doing the happy dance.

  • Celebrity birthdays on Aug 21

    Actor-director Melvin Van Peebles is 82. Singer Kenny Rogers is 76. Actor Clarence Williams III is 75. Actress Kim Cattrall is 58. Actress Carrie-Anne Moss is 44. Rock musician Liam Howlett (Prodigy) is 43. Actress Alicia Witt is 39. Singer Kelis is 35. Comedian Brooks Wheelan (“Saturday Night Live”) is 28. Actor Cody Kasch is 27. Actress Hayden Panettiere is 25. Actor RJ Mitte is 22.

  • Celebrity roundup

    Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson: separate lives; Meg Ryan splits from John Mellencamp; Cameron Diaz, Benji Madden getting serious

    This is hardly a seven-year itch kind of thing. But Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson seem to have a hit a rough patch after 26 years of wedded bliss. In Touch reports that the couple took some time off from each other this summer.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category