Coretta Scott King will be given a public viewing in the rotunda of the Georgia Capitol at the governor’s invitation, her family announced Thursday in a measure of how far the South has come since the civil rights era.
In a statement, the King family announced funeral plans for the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that include a viewing at the Capitol on Saturday; another viewing on Monday at Ebenezer Baptist Church, King’s longtime pulpit; and a funeral in suburban Atlanta on Tuesday at the 10,000-seat New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, where the Kings’ youngest child, Bernice, is a minister.
King, 78, died Tuesday at an alternative medicine clinic in Mexico where she had sought treatment for ovarian cancer.
“The King family is overwhelmed at the generous outpouring of support, prayers and condolences from all over the world,” said Chris Garrett, a family spokesman.
Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue’s offer of a viewing at the Capitol was in stark contrast to what happened after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
Then-Gov. Lester Maddox, a fiery segregationist, refused to close the Capitol for the funeral and expressed anger over the flying of state flags at half-staff.
Perdue, for his part, has ordered that all flags on state property fly at half-staff until Coretta Scott King’s funeral.
The last public viewing in the Capitol rotunda was in 2005, for former Gov. S. Ernest Vandiver, a segregationist who won office in 1958 by vowing “no, not one” black child would integrate a Georgia classroom. Before he left office in 1963, he went on to preside over peaceful desegregation.
The King family has not released details about the burial. However, the family may bury King at the South-View Cemetery in Atlanta, said Winifred Hemphill, the cemetery association’s president.
South-View is a historically black cemetery founded by former slaves in 1886. Martin Luther King Jr.’s parents and maternal grandparents are buried there.
Martin Luther King Jr. was originally buried there but now lies in a crypt at the King Center near Ebenezer Baptist. However, the tomb is only a single-person crypt, Hemphill said.
The family asked that donations be made to a scholarship fund in Coretta Scott King’s name at her alma mater, Antioch College in Yellow Spring, Ohio.