Yolanda King was the eldest child and daughter of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King. She was also an activist, actress, and producer who followed her parents’ footsteps in promoting peace and social justice. She died on May 15, 2007, at the age of 51, leaving behind a legacy of courage and compassion.
The Circumstances of Her Death
According to CBC News, Yolanda King died late Tuesday in Santa Monica, California. She collapsed after giving a speech at a fundraiser for the American Heart Association. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The cause of her death was not immediately known, but her family suspected that it might have been a heart problem. According to Stars We Lost, Yolanda King’s death was caused by a heart attack. She had a history of heart disease and had suffered a mild heart attack in 2004.
Her Life and Achievements
Yolanda King was born on November 17, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama. She was just two weeks old when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott that launched her father’s civil rights movement. She grew up in the midst of threats, violence, and harassment aimed at her family. She witnessed her father’s assassination on April 4, 1968, when she was only 12 years old.
Despite the tragedies and challenges she faced, Yolanda King pursued her education and passion for the arts. She graduated from Smith College with a bachelor’s degree in history and from New York University with a master’s degree in fine arts. She founded and led Higher Ground Productions, a company that produced artistic and educational programs that promoted positive social change.
She also appeared in several films and television shows, such as Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), Our Friend, Martin (1999), and Selma, Lord, Selma (1999). She played the role of Rosa Parks in the 1978 miniseries King, based on her father’s life. She also wrote books and delivered speeches on various topics related to her parents’ legacy and vision.
She was an advocate for peace, nonviolence, human rights, and gay rights. She supported a retrial of James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of her father, and publicly stated that she did not hate him. She also joined her mother and siblings in marches and rallies for various causes. She was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Her Family and Legacy
Yolanda King is survived by her sister, the Rev. Bernice A. King, two brothers, Martin Luther King III and Dexter Scott King, and an extended family. She was preceded in death by her mother, Coretta Scott King, who died on January 30, 2006.
Yolanda King was remembered as a warm, compassionate, and generous person who embodied her father’s spirit and humor. She was also praised as a talented and inspiring artist who used her gifts to uplift others and spread a message of hope and love.
She once said: “We must keep reaching across the table and, in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, feed each other.” Her life and work exemplified this principle of mutual respect and understanding.
Yolanda King’s death was a loss not only for her family but also for the world. She left behind a legacy of courage and compassion that continues to inspire people to strive for peace and justice.