Jan. 31, 2006 – Condolences poured in Tuesday for Coretta Scott King, wife of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. She died Monday at an alternative medicine clinic in Mexico while being treated for ovarian cancer. King, 78, had been in failing health since she suffered a stroke and heart attack in August.
The Associated Press reported that she died in her sleep from respiratory failure.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said in a news release that he, on behalf of the territory's people and the government, joined a grateful world community in acknowledging her commendable contributions, unselfish service and willingness to go above and beyond the call of normal duty to ensure that all of God's children received the same rights and privileges regardless of economic status, race, persuasion, or creed.
"We honor her memory as an eloquent, charming and able helpmate of the esteemed civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King," the governor said.
He said that since King died in 1968, his wife became a celebrated and internationally renowned advocate for human rights with her efforts to keep the flame of civil rights aglow.
Turnbull said that her leadership enabled many to advance the mission of making this a safer, saner and more compassionate world.
Sen. Lorraine Berry echoed Turnbull's remarks in noting that although King was well known because of her husband, she was also an activist in her own right.
Berry said King worked alongside her husband throughout the '50s and '60s, taking part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1959 and working to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Berry said King founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and served as the center's president and chief executive officer.
Berry also said that King worked for 15 years to have her husband's birthday become a national holiday.
"Coretta Scott King will be surely missed. May God bless her and her family in their time of bereavement," Berry said in a news release.
St. Thomas businessman John de Jongh said that King will be forever known as the first lady of the Civil Rights movement.
"Her loss will be one mourned by all people, black or white, rich or poor, from this point forward," he said in a news release.
He said that as the territory begins its celebration of Black History Month, people should take a minute to honor King's passing as well as civil rights icon Rosa Parks' passing.
"We mourn the losses of two women whose time here amongst us was marked by repression, defiance, bravery and stoic commitment to a cause greater than all of us," he said.
King is survived by their four children, Yolanda, Martin III, Dexter, and Bernice.
According to the Web site, www.galegroup.com, she was born in Heiberger, Ala., the daughter of country storekeeper. During the Depression, she picked cotton to help keep the family afloat, walking five miles every day to attend school, later taking the bus to Marion High School.
She worked her way through Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, majoring in music and education.
King went on to study at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she met the man who would become her husband. The couple were married in 1953.
After Coretta King graduated in 1954, the couple moved to Montgomery, Ala., where her husband began his work as a minister.
After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, Coretta King continued her husband's civil rights work. Just four days after he died, she led a march of 50,000 people through the Memphis streets. A year later, she took his place in the Poor People's March to Washington.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.