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Civil Rights Leader's Papers To Stay in Atlanta


An agreement has been reached to allow thousands of papers from the estate of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Junior to remain in his hometown in the southeastern United States. The collection of handwritten documents was to have been auctioned in less than one week.

A group of influential black citizens, including former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, arranged to purchase the personal papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. for $32 million.

The papers had been scheduled for auction at Sotheby's in New York later this month. David Redden, Sotheby's vice chairman, said the collection included drafts of Mr. King's acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize and the famous "I Have A Dream" speech he delivered in Washington in 1963. "They really are remarkable, wonderful, and important and moving documents and I'm so thrilled that you will have them in Atlanta," he said.

The collection also includes Mr. King's personal library of about one thousand books. It will be given to Morehouse College in Atlanta, where King graduated in 1948. Morehouse is the nation's largest private liberal-arts college for black men.

The Sotheby's spokesman called the writings an extraordinarily important collection of material representing one of the most important figures in the country's history. "The value of this collection goes so far beyond anything that you can put a price on. This collection is filled with some of the most sacred documents of America," he said.

Civil and business leaders feared that the typed and handwritten documents being sold by King's children would leave Atlanta, the city where King was born and where he and his widow are entombed.

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