They spent six years raising more than $100 million, one cocktail fundraiser, and souvenir mug and lapel pin at a time.

And on October 16, 2011, the idea to build a monument in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., an idea that began 28 years earlier at the kitchen table of a member of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., came to fruition.

Thousands of people of different races and backgrounds watched as President Barack Obama, two of King’s children, and countless other entertainers and veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, dedicated a bold statue to civil rights icon.

Less than two years later, however, the organizing force behind the national monument – the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation – is no more after the surviving children of Martin and Coretta Scott King refused to grant a license for the group to continue to use the name “Martin Luther King Jr.”

The website that served as the centerpiece of the foundation’s fundraising and informational efforts – – no longer exists. What used to be a vibrant site that served as the centerpiece for online donations and information related to the memorial has vanished after the King children, through their attorneys, demanded it be turned over to them.

King’s surviving children – Dexter, Bernice and MLK III – control the copyrights to their father’s images and words through a for-profit entity, King, Inc., which was set up after his death to handle all affairs of his estate.

There have been a number of contentious moments between the MLK foundation and King, Inc., over the last few years. At one point as the memorial was ready to be dedicated, King, Inc. had all of Dr. King’s books removed from the bookstore on the site of the memorial. The King children wanted to control the bookstore and reap all profits from the selling of merchandise.

All of this despite the foundation paying MLK children through King, Inc., $2.7 million to use the likeness of King and his quotes on the memorial on the National Mall.

“We are trying to keep the memorial relevant,” said Harry E. Johnson Sr., a Houston lawyer and president of The Memorial Foundation, the foundation’s new name (The site is and bears the slogan, “Builders of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial).

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