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Last night, although Philadelphia won the Super Bowl, everyone is talking about the commercials. The ad getting the most buzz, especially from Twitter, is a Dodge Ram commercial featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The truck company used Dr. King’s voice from one of his final speeches, “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon. See the commercial below:

As you can imagine, Twitter sounded off.

Did King’s estate approve of the speech being used for a Dodge Ram ad? Yep, but his estate isn’t managed by his daughter Bernice King or the King Center. The King Center wrote on Twitter:

Intellectual Properties Management, Inc. is the “exclusive licensor” of the estate of King. Managing director Eric D. Tidwell released a statement to which read, “When Ram approached the King Estate with the idea of featuring Dr. King’s voice in a new ‘Built To Serve’ commercial, we were pleasantly surprised at the existence of the Ram Nation volunteers and their efforts. We learned that as a volunteer group of Ram owners, they serve others through everything from natural disaster relief, to blood drives, to local community volunteer initiatives. Once the final creative was presented for approval, it was reviewed to ensure it met our standard integrity clearances. We found that the overall message of the ad embodied Dr. King’s philosophy that true greatness is achieved by serving others. Thus we decided to be a part of Ram’s ‘Built To Serve’ Super Bowl program.”

How would Dr. King feel about one of his final sermons being used for a capitalistic Super Bowl ad? Probably not too happy, considering he once said, “The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.” Sadly, this is a larger conversation of ownership, and the fact that Intellectual Properties Management, Inc. controls Dr. King’s estate is deeply disappointing. Whenever you hear Dr. King’s voice in media, just know the money is not going to his family or the communities he fought for, it goes to Intellectual Properties Management, Inc.

Happy Black History Month.



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