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Atlanta gala honors Coretta Scott King nearly a year after her death

Sunday, January 14, 2007

ATLANTA -- It's been a year since Coretta Scott King received thunderous applause when she surprised guests at the annual Salute to Greatness Dinner and appeared on stage, smiling and waving with her children.

On Saturday, guests again applauded the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., as she was honored posthumously for her human rights contributions and work to preserve her husband's legacy in the decades after his death.

King suffered a stroke and heart attack in August 2005 and battled ovarian cancer before she died in January 2006.

"The loss of this amazing and gallant woman was devastating for the nation and the King Center family," said her nephew, Isaac Newton Farris Jr. -- who now leads the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Civil Rights widow Myrlie Evers-Williams joined Andrew Young, Gladys Knight and the King children in saluting the civil right matriarch.

Corretta Scott King, along with the coalition led by Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin that helped secure the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection last summer, were honored at the gala.

The event is the primary fund-raiser for The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which Coretta Scott King founded in the basement of the couple's home shortly after her husband's death in 1968.

The gala is one of a series of tributes to Coretta Scott King across the city.

On Friday, a group of American and African human rights activists laid a white flower wreath at the King crypt -- which now houses both Kings -- at The King Center's reflecting pool.

The symbolic wreath laying recalls a tradition started by Coretta Scott King to mark her husband's birthday on Jan. 15 even before the day became a federal holiday. Each year, from 1969 to 2005, she publicly remembered him at events at his tomb and at Ebenezer Baptist Church -- where King preached from 1960 to 1968 -- including the wreath laying.


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