Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Widow, Dies
POSTED: 7:27 am EST January 31, 2006
UPDATED: 7:50 am EST January 31, 2006
<!--startindex-->Civil rights leader Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has died, according to former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.
She was 78 years old and is survived by four children.
Young, who was a former civil rights activist and was close to the King family, broke the news during a phone call he made to the "Today" show.
Asked how he found out about her death, Young said: "I understand she was asleep last night and her daughter tried to wake her up."
Born and raised in Marion, Ala., Mrs. King married Martin Luther King, Jr. on June 18, 1953. They moved to Montgomery, Ala., in September 1954, where she assumed the many functions of a pastorís wife at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
During Dr. King's career, Mrs. King devoted most of her time to raising their four children: Yolanda Denise (1955), Martin Luther, III (1957), Dexter Scott (1961), and Bernice Albertine (1963). She balanced mothering and movement work, speaking before church, civic, college, fraternal and peace groups. She conceived and performed a series of favorably-reviewed Freedom Concerts.
In 1957, she and Dr. King journeyed to Ghana to mark that country's independence. In 1958, they spent a belated honeymoon in Mexico, where they observed first-hand the immense gulf between extreme wealth and extreme poverty.
In 1959, Dr. and Mrs. King spent nearly a month in India on a pilgrimage to disciples and sites associated with Mahatma Gandhi. And in 1964, she accompanied him to Oslo, Norway, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Even prior to her husband's public stand against the Vietnam War in 1967, Mrs. King functioned as liaison to peace and justice organizations, and as mediator to public officials on behalf of the unheard.
Since her husband's assassination in 1968, Mrs. King has devoted much of her energy and attention to developing programs and building the Atlanta-based Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change as a living memorial to her husband's life and dream.
As founding President, Chair, and Chief Executive Officer, she dedicated herself to providing local, national and international programs that have trained tens of thousands of people in Dr. King's philosophy and methods.
In 1983, an act of Congress instituted the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission, which she chaired for its duration.
And in January 1986, Mrs. King oversaw the first legal holiday in honor of her husband -- a holiday which has come to be celebrated by millions of people world-wide and, in some form, in over 100 countries.
In 1995 she turned over leadership of the Center to her son, Dexter Scott King, who served as Chairman, President & CEO until January 2004. <!--stopindex-->