King memorial foundation drops MLK Jr. from name, denies rift with family

March 28, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 22: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is on view for the general public in Washington. D.C.. on Monday, August 22, 2011. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post) The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

The foundation that raised money for the construction of the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial on the Mall has quietly dropped the MLK from its name — but both the group and the King family are denying suggestions of a rift. Foundation President Harry E. Johnson, Sr., told USA Today that his group had a longstanding agreement with King’s estate to change its name from the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation — it’s now simply The Memorial Foundation — once construction was complete and its focus shifted to upkeep and education. “I was not surprised by any decision,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The King family has been criticized in the past for being overly protective (often via lawsuits) of the civil rights leader’s name and image; a rep for the estate hinted at some tension, telling USA Today they were dismayed that the foundation got involved in merchandising.

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