Coretta Scott King dead at 78

Posted on 01/31/2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By MARIA SAPORTA

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 01/31/06

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Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., has died, former United Nations ambassador Andrew Young said today.

The 78-year-old Mrs. King died in her sleep. Bernice King, one of her daughters, found her about 1 a.m., said Young, a family friend and former King aide.

“It seemed as though she was resting when she passed away. Bernice thought she had had a rather difficult day yesterday and felt like she needed her rest. It wasn’t until early this morning that she [Bernice] went to check on her and saw she had passed away.”

“It’s just sad to see her gone,” security guard Richard Cheatham lowered the American flag to half-staff at the King Center about 7:30 a.m.

“It’s just sad to see her gone,” he said.

Last spring, Coretta King was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, which causes the heart to quiver instead of beat regularly. The condition led to a major stroke and a minor heart attack on Aug. 16. She was trying to recover from the stroke, which impaired her right side and speech, at the time of her death.

“It so significant that we would lose another giant at the heels of losing Ms. Rosa Parks,” said the Rev. Harold Middlebrooks, a Knoxville, Tenn., preacher who lived with members of the King family during the Rev. King’s student days at Morehouse College and as a civil rights worker.

“Both of them could not be out there on the front lines,” he said. “Somebody had to rear the children. That was her role. She saw that that was her role and she did it. At the same time, she was very supportive of her husband.”

During the battle to desegregate the South, Coretta Scott King walked alongside her husband. After he was assassinated in April 1968, she stepped out of his shadow and became an internationally respected advocate of justice, peace and human rights.

She worked tirelessly to spread her husband’s message of fighting for equality through nonviolent struggle.

Nickeya Weathers, 29, lives around the corner from the King Center on Auburn Avenue. “I was shocked,” Weathers said. “Everybody thought she would get better.”

Weathers started crying while standing next to the reflection pool at the center.

“I feel like this was everybody’s mother in the fact that her family was so important,” she said. “It’s just sad.”

Said John Evans, who was taking a break from his job at the Parkview Manor Nursing and Rehab Center across Auburn Avenue from the King Center: “Boy, it’s really a hurting feeling. My joy just went down when I heard about it because she was such a wonderful person for this community.”

Four days after the Nobel Peace Prize winner was killed in Memphis, Coretta Scott King delivered a speech in which she declared, “We must carry on because this is the way he would have wanted it to have been. … We are going to continue his work.”

She spent the next 37 years doing just that.

Staff writers Add Seymour, Bill Montgomery and Ernie Suggs contributed to this report.

This great woman will be missed.  She carried on her and her husband’s work and believed in Equality for all.  My she find joy in Heaven with Martin.

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