Martin Luther King Jr’s Only Living Sister, Christine King Farris, Dies At 95

Farris was an activist and educator who taught at Spelman College for over 50 years.

Christine King Farris, the sister of Martin Luther King Jr., died at the age of 95, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center announced Thursday (June 29).

Bernice King, Farris’ niece and the only living daughter of Martin Luther King, paid tribute to her aunt in a touching post on Twitter.

"I love you and will miss you, Aunt Christine," Bernice King, wrote.

"As the eldest sibling of my father, Martin Luther King, Jr., Aunt Christine embodied what it meant to be a public servant," Martin Luther King III added. "Like my dad, she spent her life fighting for equality and against racism in America."

In a statement released by the White House on Thursday, President Joe Biden described Farris as “an example of the American Dream.”

"Shaping the history of the journey of America in the 20th and 21st centuries, she stood for peace, freedom, and justice—virtues that reflect the best of our nation," Biden said.

Willie Christine King was born on Sept. 11, 1927, in Atlanta as the first-born child of Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Christine Williams King. After high school, she graduated from Spelman College in 1948 with a degree in economics and from Columbia University with a Master's degree in Social Foundations of Education in 1950. She also earned a second master's degree in Special Education from Columbia in 1958.

At Spelman, Farris was named the director of the Freshman Reading Program and held a tenured professorship in Education along with being  the Director of the Learning Resources Center for 48 years. She retired in 2014.

In 1960, she married Isaac Newton Farris and the couple had two children, Angela Christine Farris Watkins and Isaac Newton Farris Jr.  After 57 years of marriage, Issac Newton Farris died in 2017.

As an activist,Farris served as  Vice Chair and Treasurer of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, was member of the  the International Reading Association, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and was longtime member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church where U.S. Senator Rapheal Warnock is Senior Pastor. After 57 years of marriage, Issac Newton Farris died in 2017.

In an essay titled ‘An Autobiography Of Religious Development,” Martin Luther King Jr., explained how Farris influenced him to join the church which was the foundation of his commitment to racial justice and economic empowerment.

"My sister was the first one to join the church that morning, and after seeing her join I decided that I would not let her get ahead of me, so I was the next," King noted. "I had never given this matter a thought, and even at the time of {my} baptism, I was unaware of what was taking place. From this it seems quite clear that I joined the church not out of any dynamic conviction, but out of a childhood desire to keep up with my sister."

In a statement, Warnock lauded the vast accomplishments of one of his most well-known constituents and a faithful parishioner.

“She went on to witness the long arc of American history bend from many changes, much of it pushed forward by her own brother,” Warnock said., “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.”

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