Civil rights leaders gathered in Atlanta, Monday night, for an emotional memorial service for Coretta Scott King, who died last week. The civil rights leader was honored at the church where her husband, the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior, preached during the 1960's.
On the eve of her funeral, Coretta Scott King was remembered by speaker after speaker as a loving and caring woman who supported her husband's non-violent protests for civil rights and then, after his 1968 assassination, lobbied to make his birthday a national holiday.
Former U.S. Ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young spoke of Mrs. King's childhood in rural Alabama, where he said she learned the discipline and suffering of the Old South. He described her as a diamond in the rough who was polished by the civil rights movement as she met Martin Luther King Junior and stood by his
side, even as his life was threatened.
"The lesson of the country is don't let it get you down. Let your sufferings refine you. Let it be like a refining fire to purify your spirit and strengthen your life," said Young. "And, so, Coretta Scott King goes home to glory a 78-carat diamond, perfectly polished."
During the five-hour memorial service, the Reverend Jesse Jackson called Mrs. King a freedom fighter.
And, Georgia Congressman John Lewis - who went to jail dozens of times as a leader of the civil rights movement in the 1960's - said he owed his political career to Mrs. King and her husband.
"This woman, this brave, courageous, this beautiful woman, must be looked upon not just as a citizen of the United States of America, but as a citizen of the world," said Lewis. "She helped make our world a better place. Thank you, Mrs. Coretta Scott King."
Across the street, mourners waited for hours to pay their final respects to Coretta Scott King in the old, historic sanctuary of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. The National Park Service said more than 70,000 mourners viewed her body, Monday.