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Mourners Pay Last Respects to Civil Rights Activist Coretta Scott King


Mourners are lining up to pay respects to Coretta Scott King, the widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Mrs. King's body was taken in a horse-drawn carriage to the Capitol of the southern state of Georgia Saturday. Mrs. King, who died Monday at age 78, is to lie in state before her funeral on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people lined the streets as an 18th-century carriage pulled by two horses brought the casket of Coretta Scott King to the Georgia state Capitol. Mrs. King is the first black person and the first woman to lie in state under the Gold Dome of Georgia's Capitol building.

During a brief ceremony, Governor Sonny Perdue called Mrs. King one of Georgia's most beloved citizens, as he offered condolences to the King family.

"She proudly bore the torch of her husband's legacy of advancing freedom and social justice across our nation and around the world," said Sonny Perdue. "And she, after Martin's death, made it her legacy, as well. Through the work of the King Center that she founded, Mrs. King carried forth a message of peace across all nations, and, today, her loss is mourned across all nations, as well as here in her native home of Georgia."

The honors accorded Mrs. King by Georgia's governor were in sharp contrast to the way the death of her husband, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., was treated after his 1968 assassination. Then-Georgia Governor Lester Maddox did not attend the Reverend King's funeral, and refused to let his body lie in honor at the state Capitol.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, a black woman, noted progress in race relations that has occurred in the Southern United States and Mrs. King's role in facilitating change. "For I would not be in this place as mayor of Atlanta had Coretta not lived and fought for our right as African Americans to be here," said Shirley Franklin.

After the viewing at the Capitol, Mrs. King's casket will lie at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her husband preached in the years before his death. A funeral service will be held Tuesday at a suburban Atlanta church where the Kings' youngest daughter, Bernice, is a minister.

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