Dr. Christine King Farris, the last living sibling of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has died at age 95.
The King Center said via social media that Farris was a founding board member, vice-chair, and treasurer of the Auburn Avenue landmark, as well as an esteemed educator, author, and activist.
After her brother’s assassination in 1968, Farris worked with his widow, Coretta Scott King, to preserve and promote his legacy, according to a report from the Associated Press via GPB News.
Farris outlived many of the people she loved, including her parents, her two brothers, her sister-in-law and her niece, Yolanda. A 1948 graduate of Spelman College, she earned her degree the same day MLK earned his sociology from Morehouse College, according to AP.
Farris returned to Spelman, where she worked for more than 50 years. In 1960, she married Isaac Newton Farris. The couple had two children, Angela Christine Farris Watkins and Isaac Newton Farris Jr.
Farris’s niece and CEO of The King Center, Bernice King, posted a photo of them together and called her a “phenomenal woman.”
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens issued the following statement on the passing of Farris:
“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.’
“Mrs. Farris was a beloved mother, grandmother, and aunt. On behalf of the entire city of Atlanta, I send our deepest condolences to her children, Isaac Farris, Jr. and Dr. Angela Farris Watkins. Her niece and nephews, Bernice, Martin and Dexter are also in our prayers.
“We mourn with you today and pray that God’s Grace keeps you. Rest in Heaven, Mrs. Farris.”
U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock, who was also King’s pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, released the following statement:
“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.
“Christine King Farris is an iteration of the American dream. She was born Willie Christine King, the oldest daughter of Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King, in the 1920’s segregated South. She went on to witness the long arc of American history bend from many changes, much of it pushed forward by her own brother.
“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.”