Rare MLK Jr. letter is for sale – again

Associated Press


A 1966 letter from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is up for auction for the second time in two weeks.

The one-page typed letter – never before seen by the general public – contains King’s thoughts on the Vietnam War a year before he publicly spoke out against it.

Era Blakney, the recipient of the letter, sold it at an online auction last week for $6,500, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Now it’s being auctioned again, with requests for a starting bid of $95,000.

The newspaper reports that Gary Zimet, a California-based memorabilia dealer, is trying to flip the letter. Previously, he tried to broker the sale of the hearse that carried King’s body for $2.5 million. It didn’t sell, he told the newspaper.

“In my business, pricing is highly subjective. I have been in the business for 40 years and this is the most extraordinary thing to ever hit the market,” Zimet said. “When one gets a truly extraordinary item like this one, one can ask the moon. I am asking for the moon.”

Blakney reached out to different institutions to see if they were interested in the letter, she said. She even reached out to the exclusive licensor of the King estate, Intellectual Properties Management, several times but never heard back.

The newspaper reports that Blakney and King didn’t know each other. King was responding to a letter she had written criticizing his position on the Vietnam War. Blakney was the owner of a popular restaurant in Toledo, Ohio, and her husband, Simmie S. Blakney, was a mathematician at the University of Toledo.

King’s response to Blakney changed her perspective on the war, she said.

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