Brandon Minster

Forty-seven years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the Lincoln Memorial and renewed America’s challenge to view all men as equal with his “I Have a Dream” speech.

He said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

I used this quote without paying a licensing fee to the King family. In modern America, that counts as civil disobedience.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial is currently planned for Washington’s Tidal Basin. Questions regarding licensing fees and the nationality of the sculptor continue to taint the project.

The controversy surrounding the memorial is a disservice to King himself, but is oddly fitting for what his family and friends have allowed his legacy to become.

King’s children run the King Center, which earns money from the use of his image and writings, as well as from his public statements, including his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Their militant oversight of his image’s use, even in public statements recorded by others, is often unseemly and is not just restricted to commercial ventures.

Use of King’s likeness at the memorial itself is not being charged but the project foundation was required to pay the King Center $800,000 for using King’s image and words in fundraising material.

The foundation is not profiting from King’s legacy, nor is it an unsavory group that needs barring from associating with King’s public image. It is trying to preserve his public image and is being charged for the right to do so.

The fees are justified as an offset to an expected drop in donations to the King Center. Young children profiting from the legacy of their assassinated father made sense.

After all, he was their economic support. Nearly 50 years later, however, we are told their father cannot receive this immense honor without demanding they be compensated.

Isaac Farris Jr., King’s nephew and president of King Center, told Atlanta’s Channel 11 news that the center didn’t profit from the arrangement since they spent the money. Farris’ accounting standards are highly suspect.

Further controversy surrounds the choice of Chinese national sculptor Lei Yixin. Some argue Yixin is tainted by China’s civil rights record. Others claim his sculpture looks “like a very big Chinese black man.”

For the few who don’t understand irony, the problem is Lei’s race. African-American artist Gilbert Young spearheaded a protest, claiming “he is ours.”

If there was one issue that King fought for during his lifetime, it was obviously not to judge people by the color of their skin.

In a way, the controversy is perfectly fitting for what King’s family and sycophants have done to his legacy: monetary shakedowns and racial quotas.

What better way to commemorate his late-life dabbling in communism than to use a Chinese sculptor?

It turns out the memorial will better capture his memory than anyone even suspected.