Library Journal Academic Newswire (TM)
The Publishing Report for August 28, 2003
I HAVE A DEAL: KING FAMILY TO AUCTION OFF MLK DOCUMENTS
The archive of U.S. civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is being offered for sale through auction house Sotheby’s for an estimated $30 million. The artifacts, which include a draft of King’s landmark “I Have a Dream” speech, range from 1948 through until his death in 1968. News of the sale comes on the heels of the King family’s failed bid to sell the archive for $20 million to the Library of Congress in 1999. That deal was proposed by Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), who, after meeting with the King family, introduced legislation that would have funded the purchase (see LJ Academic Newswire 11/2/99). The plan was ultimately abandoned after lawmakers balked at paying such a price for the collection. LC rarely pays for collections and some lawmakers voiced concern over setting such a costly precedent. In addition, scholars questioned what separating the papers from the King Center in Atlanta means for King scholarship. No deadline has been set for the sale, but press reports indicate that the King family is looking for a buyer that would exhibit the materials and keep the collection intact. With a price tag of $30 million, however, it is virtually unfathomable that a research library could afford to take the collection.
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