Four U.S. presidents, close to a dozen senators and more then 10,000 mourners joined in remembering Coretta Scott King at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia where King’s youngest child, Elder Bernice King is a minister.
Former presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, poet Maya Angelou and the Kings’ children were among the more than three dozen who spoke during the funeral. Stevie Wonder, Michael Bolton, and Bebe and Cece Winans performed musical selections in her honor.
Flags were ordered to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Feb. 7 by President Bush in honor and remembrance of the life of King who died Jan. 30, at the age of 78.
“I am so glad her memory is being honored is such a respectable way,” said Jonathan Smith, a senior majoring in English at Kentucky State University. “I was surprised at the overwhelming admiration being shown to this remarkable women in America.”
Smith, a native of Georgia was unable to go back home to attend the funeral, so he was glad that it was televised live in its entirety for nearly five hours by the cable channel C-SPAN.
“I watched the majority of the funeral and was moved by every song and every positive word spoke about King,” he said.
The funeral followed a day of tributes at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Gladys Knight performed,talk-show host Oprah Winfrey spoke and others shared their memories of King.
On Feb. 4 King became the first woman and the first African-American to lie in state at the Georgia Capitol.
After the death of her husband the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., she continued to work toward his dream of equality for nearly 40 years. At that point she began to suffer from ovarian cancer and later a stroke.
“It was nice to see her life celebrated in grand style; however, I was disturbed to see President Bush on stage during the funeral,” said Shani Hilton, a student majoring in print journalism at Howard University. “I simply do not feel he cared or cares about the causes she and her husband fought so hard for”
On the other hand, Hilton felt the funeral was a sign of progress for America.
“In retrospect, I feel the nation is coming together to celebrate the life of Coretta Scott King as a civil rights pioneer, where in the past America may not have honored such civil rights leaders in such a substantial manner,” she said.
King’s body will be placed in a crypt near her husband’s tomb at the King Center in Atlanta. On the crypt, inscribed in black, is the Bible passage I Corinthians 13:13, that says: "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."