Georgia MLK Monument: Family Wants Input

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A bi-partisan bill is pending before the Georgia Legislature, one that could result in the erection of a Martin Luther King Jr. monument in the state capitol.

Though Gov. Nathan Deal has said he would be glad to work with the legislative body on the effort, the estate of Martin Luther King Jr. has approached the matter with a great deal of caution.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that the estate has written a letter to the governor, reminding him that they own all the rights to the slain civil rights leader's "name, image, likeness, words, rights of publicity, copyrighted works, recorded voice, and trademark interests."

As such, his family members are demanding the right to add input on a monument of any kind dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr.

Eric Tidwell is managing director of Intellectual Properties Management, which the King family owns. According to Tidwell, the King family was surprised that legislative plans were being made without any direct contact with the estate.

In the letter written on behalf of the King estate, Tidwell wrote, "When the media reported that the Governor referenced this initiative in remarks he made on the King Holiday, we expected to hear from your office and the appropriate parties seeking the Estate’s input and approval."

The situation is being monitored according to an email by Chris Riley, Gov. Deal's chief of staff.

"Please do not assume the governor would ever try to financially capitalize on the legacy of Dr. King," said Riley, "He is simply trying to honor a great Georgian."

The estate of Martin Luther King Jr. may be feeling especially anxious as they've had to repeatedly go to court over the attempted use of the famous figures words and images without permission or payment to surviving family members.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Republican representing Columbus, Ga., said that the estate would most definitely be consulted should the bill make way for a monument to be erected.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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