Home News Christine King Farris, Last Sibling of Martin Luther King Jr., Dies at 95

Christine King Farris, Last Sibling of Martin Luther King Jr., Dies at 95

Christine King Farris, Last Sibling of Martin Luther King Jr., Dies at 95

Christine King Farris, the last living sibling of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., died on Thursday. She was 95.

Her death was announced by her niece, the Rev. Bernice King, in a statement. The statement did not say where she died.

Ms. Farris, Dr. King’s older sister, supported him politically and personally. She joined him in 1965 for the March for Voting Rights in Alabama and in 1966 for the March Against Fear in Mississippi. She also lent him money so he could buy his engagement ring.

She lived through multiple tragedies over the next few years: the assassination of Dr. King in 1968; the death, by drowning, of her other brother, Alfred Daniel King, known as A.D., in his swimming pool in 1969; and the assassination of her mother, Alberta King, during a church service in 1974.

“I think of the things that I’ve faced in my life, and sometimes I question how I’m still here,” Ms. Farris told CNN in 2008. “I’m the lone survivor in my family.”

Ms. Farris dedicated herself to promoting Dr. King’s legacy. She helped Coretta Scott King, her sister-in-law, establish the King Center, a nonprofit organization that conducts educational programs and supports research related to Dr. King, and she served as its senior vice president and treasurer.

She made herself available on both mundane and dramatic occasions to honor her family. She helped pick authentic wallpaper for a museum based in the home where she and her siblings grew up. In 2007, the year after Coretta Scott King died, Ms. Farris took her place conducting a commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Dr. King’s birthday.

This January, she was in the pews when President Biden spoke in honor of her brother.

Willie Christine King was born on Sept. 11, 1927, in Atlanta. She was the eldest child of the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Christine Williams King; Martin was born in 1929, and A.D. was born the next year.

In 1948 she graduated from Spelman College, as her mother and grandmother had, and she later earned two master’s degrees in education from Columbia University — one in the social foundations of education in 1950 and one in special education in 1958. She later returned to Spelman, where she worked as an associate professor of education and the director of a learning resources center for about 50 years. She was often described as the college’s longest-serving faculty member.

In 1960, she married Isaac Newton Farris. The couple had two children, Angela Christine Farris Watkins and Isaac Newton Farris Jr. A list of Ms. Farris’s survivors was not immediately available.

Ms. Farris wrote two children’s books about her brother and, in 2009, a memoir, “Through It All: Reflections on My Life, My Family, and My Faith.” She made it her goal to describe what Dr. King was like not as a great man of history, but as a brother.

“They think he simply happened, that he appeared fully formed, without context, ready to change the world,” she wrote in her memoir. “Take it from his big sister, that’s simply not the case.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting.


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