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King's Close Friend Remembers Her as Committed and Genuine


The funeral of civil rights activist Coretta Scott King is being held Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia. Earlier VOA's Anthony Stokes spoke with one of King's closest friends in Washington about the type of person she was and the strong legacy she leaves.

The widow of the assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. is recognized by many as the "first lady of the civil rights movement." But to those who knew Coretta Scott King personally, she was a friend and a mentor.

Civil rights advocate Dorothy Height was president of the National Council of Negro Women during many of the civil rights events of the 1960s. She worked closely with the King family and says Coretta Scott King has institutionalized her husband's philosophy of nonviolence. Height says King is a very good example of true commitment. "She has made his teachings something that will live for a long time. She took the King philosophy seriously and she worked at it. And it was not a thing for show. It was for helping them instill in their own lives the principles that he had taught," Height said.

In 1986, Height started a two-day event celebrating African-American families, known as the Black Family Reunion, which attracts nearly 500,000 people a year. She recalls Coretta Scott King's speech at one of those reunions. "We worked together in the civil rights and also we worked together just as friends working together and I remember that when we had the Black Family Reunion, that she, speaking to the group of women, said that she knew what it was like to be a single parent and raise four children. And that brought her closer to them, and they enjoyed listening to her and learning from her. That's the kind of person she was, she was so down-to-earth," she said.

Height says the best tribute to Coretta Scott King would be to help continue the work of the King Center in Atlanta, which she founded as a source of information about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s philosophy and methods of nonviolence.

Coretta Scott King died last week at the age of 78 and had been in poor health after suffering a stroke in August.