Belafonte sues MLK estate, daughter over documents

Belafonte sues MLK estate, daughter over documents

DOCUMENT DISPUTE: Harry Belafonte is suing the estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. Photo: Reuters

(Reuters) – U.S. singer and social activist Harry Belafonte has sued the estate of Martin Luther King Jr. in a dispute over ownership of documents that Belafonte said were given to him by the late civil rights leader and his wife, according to court documents filed on Tuesday.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York, Belafonte asks the court to declare him the owner of three documents associated with King and his widow, Coretta Scott King, and to bar King’s estate and youngest daughter, Bernice King, permanently from trying to claim ownership of the items.

The disputed documents are an outline of King’s “Casualties of the War in Vietnam” speech that Belafonte said he has had in his possession since 1967, the “Memphis Speech” that was undelivered and found in one of King’s suit pockets after his 1968 assassination, and a condolence letter that President Lyndon Johnson sent to King’s widow after King’s death.

King’s estate and Bernice King disputed Belafonte’s ownership of the documents when the singer took the items to Sotheby’s auction house in New York to be appraised and put up for sale in 2008, the lawsuit said.

The items were withdrawn from auction after King’s estate and Bernice King said Belafonte had “wrongfully acquired” them, and they remain in Sotheby’s possession, according to court documents.

Belafonte’s lawsuit asks the court to declare that the documents were not taken wrongfully and to order that they be returned to him.

Belafonte, 86, known as the “King of Calypso” for his Caribbean-infused songs, was a close friend and supporter of King up until the civil rights leader’s assassination in Memphis, Tenn.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

WATCH: 7 fun facts to make you think this Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is a time of coming together with family and friends. In between bites of stuffing and pumpkin pie, snack on these unusual Turkey Day facts.

in Sports

Kansas vs. Vanderbilt in Maui Invitational final

A basketball with the NCAA logo goes in on a shot by Northeastern during practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Northeastern plays Notre Dame in a second round game on Thursday.

It will be the second championship for either school in the holiday tournament. Vanderbilt won here in 1986, and Kansas won in 1996. You can hear all the action on KPUG beginning at 6:30 p.m.

in Local Sports

Washington fires Bob Ernst as women’s rowing coach

huskies university of washington uw pac 12 college logo

Ernst first took over the Washington women's program in 1980 and won six national titles, the last coming in 1987.

in Sports

A’s acquire Jed Lowrie from Astros for minor league reliever


The 31-year-old Lowrie hit .222 with nine homers and 30 RBIs in 69 games for Houston this year, starting 45 at third and 16 at shortstop. He was sidelined for more than three months by a torn ligament in his right thumb.

in Sports

No. 7 Baylor down to 3rd QB in Big 12 title, playoff pursuit


Jarrett Stidham is out after breaking a bone in his right ankle during Saturday's 45-35 win over previously undefeated Oklahoma State.