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Coretta Scott King dies at 78

31. January 2006 • David Boyle
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See, e.g., CNN, “Coretta Scott King dies: Widow of civil rights leader called ‘matriarch of the movement’”,

“Coretta Scott King, the widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., died Monday night in Baja California, Mexico…

...Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has ordered flags at all state buildings to be flown at half-staff until Mrs. King’s funeral. He also has offered to have her body lie in state at the capitol building rotunda….

...She spoke out ‘on behalf of racial and economic justice, women’s and children’s rights, gay and lesbian dignity, religious freedom, the needs of the poor and homeless, full employment, health care, educational opportunities, nuclear disarmament and ecological sanity,’ according to her biography.

...’I believe what Coretta Scott King would want us to do is continue this march toward progress when it comes to disability rights, women’s rights, civil rights—and not retreat from it,’ said Sen. Ted Kennedy….

‘She wore her grief with dignity,” said the Rev. Joseph Lowery, former president of the SCLC, who worked on civil rights with Dr. King in the 1950’s. “She moved quietly but forcefully into the fray. She stood for peace in the midst of turmoil.’”

I’m not going to bother to say anything about the symbolism of her death happening during the confirmation of Samuel Alito.


  1. Small update: see, “Coretta Scott King’s funeral slated for daughter’s church; 10,000-seat capacity”,

    “Coretta Scott King’s funeral will be held Tuesday at the suburban Baptist church where the Kings’ youngest child, Bernice, is a minister, according to the funeral director assisting the family with arrangements.

    ...The King family has not responded yet to an offer from Gov. Sonny Perdue for a public viewing at the Georgia Capitol. ”
       —David Boyle    Feb. 2 '06 - 08:40PM    #
  2. More update: see ,

    “When Janann Ransom arrived at Georgia’s Capitol, about 1,400 people had already lined up in a cold, gusty wind to pay tribute to civil rights leader Coretta Scott King. But Ransom was undeterred.

    “She’s worth it,” Ransom said. “She stood in line for me, her and her husband, when I couldn’t.”

    Thousands of mourners poured into Georgia Capitol Rotunda to pay tribute to the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the first woman and the first black person to lie in honor in a statehouse that was once a seat of segregation.

    Capitol Police estimated 10,000 people in less than three hours had passed briskly within about 5 feet of the open casket in the marble Rotunda, where King lay in her pink suit. Gloria Mavins, 52, of Orangeburg, S.C., said she was deeply moved.

    “I felt like I wanted to bow down right there and just thank her,” Mavins said.

    The bronze casket had been carried through the streets of Atlanta on a horse-drawn carriage before being ushered into the Capitol by an honor guard of the Georgia State Patrol. The crowd outside cheered and threw roses as the casket went by.


    Georgia’s flag, which Mrs. King had helped change to remove the Confederate Cross, flew at half staff.

    Gov. Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary escorted the casket into the statehouse, a sharp contrast to the official snub afforded Martin Luther King Jr. nearly four decades ago by segregationist Gov. Lester Maddox.

    “Coretta Scott King was a gracious and courageous woman, an inspiration to millions and one of the most influential civil rights leaders of our time,” Perdue said during a brief ceremony. “She was absolutely an anchor and support for her husband.”

    King’s four children — Yolanda, Dexter, Martin Luther King III and Bernice — spent a few minutes at the open casket before the doors were thrown open to the public. Yolanda King stroked her mother’s face, and she and her sister Bernice wiped away tears.

    “While we claim her, she was their momma,” Perdue said of the King children. “It’s hard to give up your momma.”


    A soloist sang the hymn “Blessed Assurance” which echoed in the cavernous marble hall.

    Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, the first black woman to lead the city, said she owed her career to King. “I would not be here without her,” Franklin said.

    The largely black crowd came pushing strollers, leaning on walkers and dressed in military camouflage. Some made the sign of the cross as they moved past the casket.


    In 1968, then-Gov. Maddox ignored Martin Luther King Jr.’s death and refused to authorize a public tribute. He was outraged at the idea of state flags, then dominated by the Confederate Cross, flying at half-staff in tribute to a black man.

    But immediately after Coretta Scott King died, the state flag was ordered lowered by Perdue.


    For most of Monday, King’s casket will lie in Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her husband preached in the years before his death. Her funeral will be held at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, where the Kings’ youngest child, Bernice, is a minister.

    Few details had been released about the funeral, including who will deliver the eulogy.”
       —David Boyle    Feb. 5 '06 - 01:54AM    #
  3. Another update: ” Coretta Scott King remembered at historic church” at ,

    “”Coretta Scott King was lying in a place of honor Monday at the Ebenezer Baptist Church where her husband shared his dream for the civil rights movement from the pulpit in the 1960s.

    ...On Sunday, mourners at Ebenezer Baptist paused to remember the “first lady of the civil rights movement” who died Jan. 30 at age 78.

    “It is fitting for us to honor her,” the church’s minister, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, told worshippers on Sunday. “We join with people all over the world in celebration of her life.”

    Some 42,000 mourners had filed past her open casket Saturday in Georgia’s Capitol’s rotunda. She was the first woman and the first black person to lie in honor there, and it was a striking contrast to the official snub her slain husband was given by then-Gov. Lester Maddox, an outspoken segregationist.

    President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton lead the list of dignitaries expected at to attend her funeral Tuesday at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a megachurch in Lithonia, Georgia, where the Kings’ youngest child, Bernice, is a minister.

    “Mrs. King is not history because she is dignified,” Sharpton said at the Historic Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, on Sunday. “Yes, she was dignified. Yes, she had grace. Yes, she was regal, but that doesn’t make her history. She is history because her husband and her stood up for what was right.”

    “It came as a tremendous shock to us. We had no idea,” eldest daughter Yolanda King said at a news conference. “She was walking with a cane, she was speaking more words … there was clearly progress happening.”

    Yolanda King said family members had thoroughly researched the clinic and “were stunned when we found out there were problems and challenges there.” Mexican authorities shut down the clinic days after King’s death, saying it had carried out unproven treatments and unauthorized surgeries. (Full story)

    “We’re missing her like crazy, but we’re just so thankful that we had her as long as we did,” Yolanda King said. “She’s been released and we feel so strongly that she has reconnected with our father.”
       —David Boyle    Feb. 6 '06 - 07:12PM    #
  4. Mrs Coretta Scott King may God bless you…you hav come a wonderful journey, and touched the lives of those around you….

    from Perth Western Australia
       —jeremy    Feb. 7 '06 - 07:47PM    #
  5. Today’s events: See Body of Coretta Scott King laid to rest: Presidents, preachers, performers join farewells at funeral ,

    “The body of Coretta Scott King was laid to rest Tuesday night….

    President Bush and three of his predecessors—Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and his father, George H.W. Bush—praised King for picking up the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s banner when he was killed in 1968.

    ...Parts of the service had a political edge as well, with pointed reminders of King’s advocacy of nonviolence and occasional jabs at the nearly three-year-old war in Iraq.

    Noting the praise showered on King by the many leaders present, Lowery said, “Will words become deeds that meet needs?”

    “We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there,” he said in a boisterous, rhyming oration. “But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here—millions without health insurance, poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor.”

    Lowery’s remarks and other barbs were met with bursts of applause. President Bush stood and embraced Lowery with a smile at the end of his comments.

    Carter said the support of King and other civil rights figures in 1976 “legitimized a Southern governor as an acceptable candidate for president.”

    ...”It was difficult for them personally, with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretapping,” he said.

    ...Funeral-goers were met outside the church by a protest by members of the Westboro Baptist Church. The Topeka, Kansas-based congregation is known for its anti-gay stands and frequently pickets the funerals of people supportive of gay rights, as Mrs. King was.”

    And here is a copy of the funeral program .
       —David Boyle    Feb. 8 '06 - 03:17AM    #
  6. Am watching the C-SPAN re-run. I actually thought Maya Angelou was the best, the Clintons smart, but too shrewdley political. Malcom X’s daughter (Attallah) is fantastic, too.

    Did not realize she got together with one of the King daughters, and they did speaking tours together.
       —Miss Devore    Feb. 8 '06 - 03:48AM    #
  7. May I have a copy of Yolanda Denise King’s funeral program.
    Ernestine Peoples

       —Ernestine Peoples    May. 25 '07 - 11:25PM    #
  8. Sorry, Ernestine, not sure what I can do; try this link though, , to contact Yolanda King’s personal assistant. Good luck! God bless you!

       —David Boyle    May. 26 '07 - 12:03AM    #