On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King spoke some of the most powerful words anyone ever has. But to whom does the "I have a dream" speech" belong? You might think it belongs to all of us as a part of our national heritage. But it doesn't.
King copyrighted many of his speeches, making his words and image-- his legacy-- the private property of his widow and four children. And, as 60 Minutes first reported in 2001, the King family has aggressively pursued financial profit from their father's "dream."
(Editor's Note: Since this report aired on the broadcast in 2001, some things have changed. King's widow and his eldest daughter have passed away. But many things have stayed the same. According to David Garrow, now a professor of University of Pittsburgh Law School, neither this 60 Minutes story nor widespread denunciations have dissuaded the King family from their commercial pursuits. "It's misappropriating a civil rights legacy to advance commercial interests," says Garrow, "and if anything, it's gotten worse.")
Does America literally "owe" the family of Martin Luther King for his enormous contributions and sacrifices for our country? Or do you think MLK is "spinning in his grave," as William Rutherford said in this report, at the shameless profiteering off his message of peace and justice?
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