Saying Goodbye To A Civil Rights Icon - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/7/06-Atlanta, GA

Saying Goodbye To A Civil Rights Icon

President Bush and three former presidents are among the 10,000 people expected to attend Coretta Scott King's funeral Tuesday in suburban Atlanta.

Bush, his father and former Presidents Carter and Clinton will be on hand, along with other luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder, Maya Angelou, and the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

The president ordered federal facilities to fly flags at half-staff Tuesday in honor of King, who died last week at age 78.

Her service is scheduled to begin at noon ET at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a 10,000-seat church in Lithonia, east of Atlanta. King's younger daughter, Bernice, is a minister there.

Before the funeral, mourners had one last chance -- until 9:30 a.m. -- to say goodbye to King at the church. Schools closed for the day in DeKalb County, where the funeral is being held.

King died January 30 at a clinic in Mexico, where she had sought alternative treatment for advanced ovarian cancer. She also had suffered a stroke and heart attack last year.

Tens of thousands of mourners braved a chilly February rain Monday to pay their final respects at Ebenezer Baptist Church -- where her late husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., preached before his assassination in 1968.

The public viewing at Ebenezer followed one at the Georgia Capitol over the weekend. Coretta Scott King was the first woman and the first African-American to receive such an honor.

"I wanted to pay my respects, and I wanted to say goodbye to her personally," said Diane Cunningham, one of the thousands drawn to Ebenezer. "She is the first lady of the African-American community, and she will be very much missed."

Winfrey remembered King as a woman of "stalwart grace" during a musical tribute inside the new Ebenezer sanctuary, across the street from the historic church.

"Every time I sat with her, whether she spoke or not, I came away wiser, knowing more about how to live and what it means to be a real woman," Winfrey said. "I felt blessed always to be in her presence. She leaves us all a better America than the America of her childhood."

King's oldest child, Yolanda, offered her family's thanks "for this glorious outpouring of love and support and care that we have felt during this time."

"We stood in the sunshine of her being," Yolanda King said. "Through her inexhaustible giving, we learned to give. Through her faith, we learned the confidence of knowing that peace on Earth is inevitable."

On Monday evening, many of the civil rights leaders who worked alongside King and her husband spoke at the day's second memorial service in the new Ebenezer sanctuary.


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