Sale of King's Papers May Violate Promise of Mrs. King, Aide Says

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Two prominent historians and a former archivist at the King Center in Atlanta charge that the auctioning on June 30 of Martin Luther King Jr.'s papers by Sotheby's to a private collector could violate agreements that Coretta Scott King made with federal agencies in the 1970s and 1980s, when, in exchange for grant money, she pledged to make King's papers widely available to scholars.

"Mrs. King had fully committed legally to making all of this material publicly available. Period," said the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference," David Garrow.

A historian and former co-editor of the King Papers Project, Ralph Luker, and the former director of the archives at the King Center, Louise Cook, along with Mr. Garrow raised the possibility that the auctioning of these materials by Sotheby's could violate the conditions of two federal grants - one in 1977, from the National Endowment for the Humanities, for the processing of King's and the SCLC's records, and a second in 1985, from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, to support the King Papers Project.

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