Bernice King (John Basemore/AP)
Bernice King (John Basemore/Associated Press)

The nobility and sacrifice exemplified by The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, are traits missing from their three surviving squabbling children. It seems as if they are always in court fighting each other or someone else. Or, as Andrew Young, the civil rights icon and close confident of King, said Wednesday, “They sue too quick.” And wait until you hear why he said that.

Martin Luther King III and Dexter King are suing their sister, Bernice King, to get possession of their late father’s Nobel Peace Prize and his personal Bible — so they can sell them. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a Jan. 20 letter from MLK III to Bernice requested a meeting to discuss the potential sale.

“The purpose of this special meeting is to discuss and vote on whether to offer for purchase at a private sale of the Nobel Peace Prize and the King Bible. And if the vote is to proceed with such a sale, to identify the person to whom. Within two days of the affirmative vote, the Nobel Peace Prize and the King Bible shall be physically delivered.”

It is important to understand a couple of things about this family fight. MLK III, Dexter and Bernice gave up their inheritance to the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Inc. in 1995. The brothers run the estate, which owns all their father’s property. Bernice heads The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which runs the library and archives of the slain civil rights leader’s papers. By taking possession of the Peace Prize and the Bible, the King brothers claim that their sister violated that 1995 agreement.

“While I love my brothers dearly, this latest decision by them is extremely troubling,” Bernice said today in Atlanta. “Not only am I appalled and utterly ashamed, I am frankly disappointed that they would even entertain the thought of selling these precious items. It reveals a desperation beyond comprehension.”

She’s got that right. Consideration of a sale of the Peace Prize and their father’s Bible is stunning and should go no further than a crazy idea they were crazy enough to put down on paper. Perhaps Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey or the trustees of the Smithsonian, or a combination of the three, should make an offer to get these national treasures out of the hands of the warring King clan. Sad they can’t be trusted with them.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.