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Thousands Attend Tribute to Coretta Scott King


Thousands of people stood in near-freezing rain in Atlanta to pay their respects to civil rights figure Coretta Scott King, who died last week at age 78. Funeral services for the widow of Martin Luther King, Junior are scheduled for Tuesday in US southern city of Atlanta.

Steady rain and near-freezing temperatures failed to discourage tens of thousands of people from lining up at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church for the final public viewing of Coretta Scott King. The widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Junior, died last Monday at a clinic in Mexico from bronchial pneumonia, a complication of ovarian cancer.

On Saturday, more than 40,000 people viewed King's body, which lay in honor under the dome of the Georgia state Capitol.

At the Ebenezer Baptist, the church where Martin Luther King, his father, and grandfather were all pastors, the first person in line was Jackie Treen, who flew in from Baltimore, Maryland, and then waited in the rain for five hours. "There is no thinking twice about it. It means too much for me and my family - there is just no giving it a second thought," the mourner said.

Across the street, in the church's new sanctuary, Coretta Scott King was remembered with a musical celebration and a final memorial service before her funeral on Tuesday at a suburban Atlanta chuch.

Mrs. King's four children have defended their decision to send their mother to an alternative medicine clinic in Mexico. They said Mrs. King's heart attack in August may have been triggered by ovarian cancer that had been growing for a year and a half.

The Kings' eldest daughter, Yolanda King, said the family has been been gratified at the public expressions of love and support. "And to see this outpouring here in her home, the place, the community that she loved so much, it really touches us tremendously and I know she's smiling," she said.

The funeral for Mrs. King will be held on Tuesday at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, where one of the Kings' daughters, Bernice King, is a minister. President Bush, former-presidents Carter and Clinton are among the many dignitaries expected to attend.