Belafonte Auctions MLK Papers

Harry Belafonte has offered up three historic documents linked to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that are set for the Sotheby’s auction block Dec. 11.

His offerings include a handwritten outline for King’s first speech condemning the Vietnam War, notes for a speech King had planned to deliver in Memphis three days after his assassination and a letter of condolence from President Lyndon B. Johnson to Coretta Scott King.

The items are reportedly expected to fetch up to $1.3 million.

Photo: AP Photo
This undated photo released by Sotheby’s auction house in New York shows Martin Luther King Jr.’s scribbled notes for a speech he had planned to deliver in Memphis, Tenn., three days after he was assassinated.

As an early supporter of the civil rights movement, Belafonte met King in 1956 in a Harlem church in New York, eventually becoming one of the preacher’s confidants.

Belafonte, who later hosted King’s visits to New York, acquired the notes to the speech titled “The Casualties of the War in Vietnam,” when King wrote a first draft of the piece then left it behind at the singer/actor’s apartment.

King’s Memphis notes were found in his pocket at the time of his assassination and later given to Belafonte.

The letter of condolence from President Johnson, in which he told Mrs. King “we will overcome this calamity and continue the work of justice and love that is Martin Luther King’s legacy,” was given to Belafonte by the widow after King’s funeral service.