June 15, 2024

Christine King Farris, the last living sibling of Martin Luther King Jr., dies at 95

2 min read

By Associated Press

For decades after her brother’s assassination in 1968, Farris worked along with his widow, Coretta Scott King, to preserve and promote his legacy.

Christine King Farris, the last living sibling of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has died.

Her niece, the Rev. Bernice King, tweeted that her “beloved aunt” died Thursday. She was 95.

For decades after her brother’s assassination in 1968, Farris worked along with his widow, Coretta Scott King, to preserve and promote his legacy. But unlike her high-profile sister-in-law, Farris’ activism — and grief was often behind the scenes.

“She may not have always been on the line of the march, but that was true with a lot of the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Marcellus Barksdale, a history professor at Morehouse College, of Farris in a 2009 interview with The Associated Press. “Because of the luminescence of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, Christine kind of got dimmed by that, but she was no less important.”

Farris was born Willie Christine King on Sept. 11, 1927, in Atlanta. She was the first child of the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Christine Williams King.

From left, Christine King Farris, Dexter King, Martin Luther King, III, and Bernice King in Atlanta
From left, Christine King Farris, Dexter King, Martin Luther King III and Bernice King in Atlanta in 1978.Steve Helber / AP

Farris helped Coretta Scott King build The King Center and helped to teach Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolent resistance. For years, her regal, dignified presence was a mainstay at the ecumenical service celebrating her brother’s birthday at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her grandfather and father also preached and where Farris remained a member.

The King Center tweeted Thursday that it mourns the loss of Farris, a founding board member, former vice-chair and treasurer, along with a photo of her.

Bernice King tweeted a photo of herself with Farris, writing, “I love you and will miss you, Aunt Christine.”

Martin Luther King III tweeted that he, his wife and his daughter had been able to spend time with his aunt in her final days.

“Aunt Christine embodied what it meant to be a public servant. Like my dad, she spent her life fighting for equality and against racism in America,” he tweeted. “She defied the odds that held back too many marginalized communities going on to become a civil rights leader and acclaimed author. No stranger to adversity, Aunt Christine used the tragedies of the assassinations of her mother and brother to fight for change in America.”

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