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United States Says Goodbye to Coretta Scott King


Dignitaries and celebrities have attended the funeral of Coretta Scott King, the widow of another civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. President Bush was among those who spoke at the service at a suburban Atlanta church.

Mourners packed the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church for a funeral filled with gospel music and dozens of tributes to Coretta Scott King, who died last week at age 78, nearly 40 years after her husband, Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

President Bush and former presidents Carter, Bush, and Clinton attended the service in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia where Bernice King, the Kings' youngest daughter, is a minister.

President Bush described Coretta Scott King as a person of conviction and strength - the wife of a pastor whose calling reached beyond the doors of his Alabama church.

"In that calling, Dr. King's family was subjected to vicious words, threatening calls in the night and a bombing at their house," he said. "Coretta had every right to count the cost and step back from the struggle, but she decided that her children needed more than a safe home. They needed an America that upheld their equality and wrote their rights into law."

Adelaide Tambo, the wife of African National Congress President Oliver Tambo, called Mrs. King the international first lady of the civil rights movement, who helped make freedom a reality for so many people.

"To the women of the world, we the women of South Africa say, Coretta's spear has fallen," she said. "We now have a duty and a responsibility to pick it up and continue from where she left off."

Thousands of people were turned away as the church, which holds about 10,000 people, was filled about two hours before the service began.

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