Coretta Scott King Dead at 78
January 31, 2006 at 9:56 AM (PT)
CORETTA SCOTT KING, widow of the slain Civil Rights leader Dr. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR, whose birthday we celebrated on JANUARY 16th, died last night (1/30). She had suffered an earlier stroke and heart attack in 2005. Mrs. KING was 78.
CORETTA KING continued her husband's fight for equality and human rights and pushed to have his birthday recognized as a national holiday first celebrated in 1986. In 1969 she founded the multi-million dollar MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. CENTER for NON-VIOLENT SOCIAL CHANGE. She turned a life shattered by her husband's assassination into one devoted to enshrining his legacy of human rights. She was loved and respected by all. Flags at THE KING CENTER in ATLANTA were lowered to half-staff this morning.
"We appreciate the prayers and condolences from people across the country," the KING family said in a statement. "It's a bleak morning for me and for many people and yet it's a great morning because we have a chance to look at her and see what she did and who she was," the poet MAYA ANGELOU said on ABC's "Good Morning America. "It's bleak because many of us can't hear her sweet voice but it's great because she did live, and she was ours. I mean African-Americans and white Americans and Asians, Spanish-speaking, she belonged to us and that's a great thing."
Former ATLANTA MAYOR ANDREW YOUNG, the civil rights activist who is close to the KING family, broke the news on NBC's "Today" show: "I understand that she was asleep last night and her daughter (BERNICE KING) went in to wake her up and she was not able to and so she quietly slipped away. Her spirit will remain with us just as her husband's has."
CORETTA KING was a supportive lieutenant to her husband, DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., during the most tumultuous days of the AMERICAN civil rights movement. She had married him in 1953.After her husband's assassination in MEMPHIS, on 4/4 1968, she kept his dream alive while also raising their four children.
CORETTA SCOTT KING's death was a "monumental loss to the nation and the world at large," said the REV. AL SHARPTON in a written statement."She was truly the first lady of the human rights movement. The only thing worse than losing her is if we never had her."
Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.