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Coretta Scott King Honored as Civil Rights Champion

Remembrances

Coretta Scott King Honored as Civil Rights Champion

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Coretta Scott King accompanies her husband the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to Oslo, Norway, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize, December 1964. AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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AFP/Getty Images

Coretta Scott King accompanies her husband the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., to Oslo, Norway, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize, December 1964.

AFP/Getty Images

Thousands gathered Tuesday at Atlanta's largest African American church to pay their respects to civil rights pioneer Coretta Scott King.

Coretta Scott King arrives at the Hero Awards April 21, 2005, in Atlanta, Ga. Getty Images hide caption

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Getty Images

Mrs. King is being honored as a champion of human rights and for a life dedicated to peace and justice. An estimated 10,000 people, including four U.S. presidents, were expected to attend the funeral at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, where King's daughter Bernice is a minister.

"The dream is still alive," said Bishop Eddie Long, leader of the suburban church in Lithonia, Ga.

Memorial Excerpts

Excerpts from King's funeral, held Feb. 7, 2006, at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church:

President Bush: She "worked to make our nation whole."

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Former President Clinton: "What will happen to the legacy of Coretta King?"

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Poet Maya Angelou: "A study in serenity."

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Rev. Joseph Lowery: "She summoned nations to study war no more."

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Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin: "She sang for liberation."

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In Her Words

Excerpts from a 1968 rally and a 2003 interview with Tavis Smiley:

King speaking at Memphis rally in April 1968, after her husband's death.

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America "has a long way to go" on economic justice.

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Civil rights struggles were for Blacks and Whites.

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On why she married Martin Luther King Jr.

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Civil rights struggle was a "commitment," not a "sacrifice."

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"We are all in a better place, doing better things, doors have been opened," he said.

The widow of Martin Luther King Jr., Mrs. King died Jan. 30 at the age 78 after battling ovarian cancer and the effects of a stroke.

Remarks made on MLK Day, Jan. 17, 2000, during a memorial service at the Atlanta church where Dr. King once preached.

King's daughter, Rev. Bernice King, defends her mother against criticism over the King family's decision to sue CBS over its use of King's 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech without permission.

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Coretta Scott King responds to her daughter's comments.

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Coretta Scott was studying voice at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music and planning on a singing career when she met her future husband. They married in 1953 and had four children: Yolanda Denise, Martin III, Dexter Scott, and Bernice Albertine.

After her husband's assassination in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968, she continued his work for social justice and devoted her life to his legacy, establishing the King Center in Atlanta and working for decades for a federal holiday in his honor.

King became a symbol, in her own right, of her husband's struggle for peace and brotherhood, presiding with a quiet, steady, stoic presence over seminars and conferences on global issues.

Reflections on a Legacy

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, a long-time friend, on King’s "two sides."

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Norton compares King to Jackie Kennedy.

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Former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young on Mrs. King's exposure to racism.

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Mary Frances Berry, a University of Pennsylvania historian, on King's support for gay and lesbian rights.

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Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) describes how King went on with life after her husband’s assassination.

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"I'm more determined than ever that my husband's dream will become a reality," King said soon after his slaying, a demonstration of the strong will that lay beneath the placid calm and dignity of her character.

In 1969, she founded the multimillion-dollar Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. King saw to it that the center became deeply involved with the issues that she said breed violence — hunger, unemployment, voting rights and racism.

"The center enables us to go out and struggle against the evils in our society," she often said.

In recent years, King spoke out against racial profiling, mandatory minimum sentences and attacks on affirmative action.

She became increasingly critical of businesses such as film and television companies, video arcades, gun manufacturers and toy makers she accused of promoting violence. She called for regulation of their advertising.

"In this country, we vigorously regulate the sale of medicine and severely limit the advertising of cigarettes because of their effect on human health," she said Jan. 15, 1994, the 65th anniversary of her husband's birth. "But we allow virtually anyone in America to buy a gun and virtually everyone in the nation to see graphic violence."

King received numerous honors for herself and traveled around the world in the process.

Due to poor health, King missed the annual King holiday celebration in Atlanta earlier this month, but she did appear with her children at an awards dinner a couple of days earlier, smiling from her wheelchair but not speaking. The crowd gave her a standing ovation.

Gathered from NPR reports, Associated Press.