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Can March on Washington’s unity be duplicated?

George Curry | 4/1/2013, 4:51 a.m.

During the program Sunday, Roland said he had spoken with Tricia Harris, a King representative, who said the money paid to the Kings was for corporations that exploited King’s image and they had not received money from the foundation for using quotes and the likeness of him.

I said, “She’s lying.”

Harris sent me a note taking exception to my comment and said, “It’s a great American tragedy when influential African Americans attack the King family for protecting and benefiting from Dr. King’s work when he set it up that way.”

Actually, King Inc. was created after his assassination. Therefore, he did not “set it up that way.” Second, the licensing agreement does in fact extract a fee from the Mall foundation in exchange for using his likeness on materials and quotes at the memorial.

Let’s be clear: No one is objecting to the King siblings profiting from their father’s intellectual properties. The issue is, unlike the descendants of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, they are trying to personally profit from a national monument that honors their father and the struggle he led.

David Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning King biographer, told Martin and Williams: “It’s not as if [King Inc.] is using any of this income for charitable good deeds. We’ve seen none of that whatsoever. It appears to be simply self-enrichment for a small number of people.”

As great as he was, the March on Washington wasn’t about King. It was about jobs and freedom. Sadly, 50 years later, we need a similar march that unites our leaders around those same issues.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. He can be reached through http://www.georgecurry.com.