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Black America Mourns Christine King Farris, the Last Living Sibling of Martin Luther King Jr., Dead at 95

Christine King Farris, the last surviving sibling of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has died at 95.

Confirming her death, her niece, the Rev. Bernice King, shared the news on Twitter on Thursday, June 29.

Christine King Farris, sister of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. died on June 29, 2023. (Photo: Twitter/Nikema Williams)

Throughout the years following her brother’s assassination in 1968, Farris worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, Coretta Scott King, to preserve and advance his legacy. While Farris remained less visible compared to her well-known sister-in-law, her activism and grief played significant roles, although often behind the scenes.

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

Farris played an instrumental role in assisting Coretta Scott King in establishing The King Center and in teaching Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolent resistance. For years, she graced the ecumenical service commemorating her brother’s birthday at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her grandfather and father had also preached and where Farris remained a member. She often shared personal stories about her brother to humanize him and make his achievements relatable to people.

The King Center expressed its sorrow for the loss of Farris, noting her role as a founding board member, former vice-chair, and treasurer, accompanied by a photo of her. Bernice King shared a photo on Twitter, reminiscing about her aunt and expressing love and gratitude.

Martin Luther King III mentioned that he, his wife, and his daughter were able to spend time with Farris during her final days.

Farris graduated from Spelman College in 1948, earning a degree in economics on the same day Martin Luther King Jr. obtained his sociology degree from Morehouse College. Farris later returned to Spelman, where she worked for over 50 years. In 1960, she married Isaac Newton Farris, and they had two children, Angela Christine Farris Watkins and Isaac Newton Farris Jr.

Farris authored two children’s books, “My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up With the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” and “March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World.” In 2009, she penned her memoir, “Through It All: Reflections on My Life, My Family, and My Faith.”

She also has served as a professor at Spelman College and other institutions.

Several prominent Black Americans mourned the author, educator, and civil rights activist on social media on Thursday.

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