The King children—Bernice, Dexter and Martin III– will accept the posthumous Congressional Gold Medal for their parents Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the White House honored both the civil rights icon and his often unsung wife–who dedicated her life to keeping his legacy and that of the larger movement alive until her death in 2006–at a special ceremony yesterday, June 24.
Earlier this year, the King children were embroiled in a battle over the potential sale of the Nobel Peace Prize medal Dr. King received in 1964 and his personal traveling Bible that President Obama sworn on for his first historic inauguration ceremony. At a news conference held at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her father and grandfather preached, Bernice said “I take this strong position for my father because Daddy is not here to say for himself, ‘My Bible and my medals are not to be sold.”
Although some applauded Bernice’s public stance, others pointed out that the children all sold their father’s papers for $32 million in 2006 and pondered why these possessions were deemed different. In 2009, the King children settled another dispute over the King estate, with Bernice and Martin III teamed against Dexter regarding his decision-making for the estate.
While there appears to be no public record of the resolution of the latest legal battle, it is promising that the children are scheduled to accept the honor for their parents together. Let’s hope the good vibes continue and the Kings can finally get the peace for which their parents fought. George Washington received the first medal in 1776.
President Barack Obama is set to sign a bill Friday that awards the Congressional Gold Medalposthumously to the four African-American girls killed in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. The children were murdered when a bomb planted by white supremacists exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in September 1963.
The deadly blast at the church, which civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. used as a meeting place, was pivotal turning point in the Civil Rights Movement and sparked support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Not only did the explosion kill the four girls- — Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair – another 22 people were injured.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award given in the United States. It is awarded to people “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.”