In an agreement with the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., HarperCollins has acquired world publishing rights to the archives of the civil rights leader. The publisher said the collection features some of the "most historically important and vital literature in American history."
Judith Curr, president and publisher of HarperOne Group, negotiated the deal with Amy Berkower, president, Writers House and agent for the King estate; and Eric D. Tidwell of Intellectual Properties Management, manager of the King estate. The deal gives HC world rights to publish new books from the archives across all formats, including children’s books, e-books, audiobooks, journals, and graphic novels in all languages.
HC said it plans to hire an archivist who will oversee the material in the archive and make it "available to all HarperCollins editors globally." HC added that it intends to "engage prominent Black scholars, actors, artists, performers, and social activists to help bring Dr. King’s works to life."
HC also has history with King. A predecessor company to HC, Harper & Brothers, published King's first book, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, in 1958.
All current his King titles, including those published by Beacon Press, will continue to be publishing by their current rights holders.
“We are thrilled to be the official publisher of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s archives,” said Curr in a statement. “We view this as a unique global publishing program."
The first King titles to be published by HC are scheduled to drop in January 2022, coinciding with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.