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Dr. Christine King Farris, sister of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., dies at 95


The last living sibling of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Christine King Farris, has passed away at the age 95.

An esteemed educator, author, activist, and family matriarch, Farris was a founding board member, vice-chair, and treasurer of the King Center, the Auburn Avenue landmark founded for her brother after his assassination in 1968. Farris worked with her sister-in-law, Coretta Scott King, to preserve and promote MLK’s legacy for decades.

Born Willie Christine King, Ferris was the oldest daughter of Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. A 1948 graduate of Spelman College, Farris earned her degree in economics the same day MLK earned his sociology from Morehouse College.  She would go on to earn master’s degrees in social foundations of education and special education from Columbia University. In 1960, she married Isaac Newton Farris. The couple had two children, Angela Christine Farris Watkins and Isaac Newton Farris Jr. She returned to her alma mater, Spelman, where she worked for more than 50 years.

Farris outlived most of her family including her parents, her two brothers, her sister-in-law and her niece, Yolanda.

Bernice King, Farris’s niece and the CEO of The King Center called her a “phenomenal woman.” Other leader in Atlanta also issued statements following her passing including Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens who said, 

“Our hearts are heavy in Atlanta today, with the news that Christine King Farris has died. “Mrs. Farris was a force in her own right. A champion of literacy and education, she taught at her alma mater, Spelman College, for nearly 50 years. As the last of the King siblings, she spent much of her life advocating for equality. She once said that her brother Martin simply gave us the blueprint, but it was our duty ‘to carry it out.’

The pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church and U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock said , “I’m deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Christine King Farris, the longest-serving member of Ebenezer Baptist Church. As the sister of Georgia’s greatest son, Martin Luther King Jr., she fused the lessons of civil rights and education as a Spelman College professor, and passed that training borne of experience to students who now serve all over the world. I’m praying for her family. As her pastor, I can say that up until the very end, she embodied hope, dignity, and a deep faith. Long live the memory of Christine King Farris.”

Farris’s “life overflowed with acts of service, love, and education that inspired the world for nearly a century,” the King Center said in its statement.

A celebration of life will be announced at a later date, the King Center said.


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