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Coretta Scott King honored at Georgia's state Capitol

(The anti-gay daughter) Rev. Bernice King, Dexter King, Martin Luther King III and Yolanda King watch as the casket of their mother, Coretta Scott King, is brought up the steps of the Capitol to lie in honor in the Rotunda in Atlanta, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006. Her funeral will be held at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, where the Kings’ youngest child, Bernice, is a minister. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)

As the AP story reports, Mrs. King is the first black woman to lie in honor. When her husband was assassinated, then-governor Lester Maddox, a cracker who clung to his segregationist ways, refused to do so for MLK.

It was a striking contrast to the death of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, when then-Gov. Lester Maddox, an outspoken segregationist, was outraged at the idea of state flags, then dominated by the Confederate Cross, flying at half-staff in tribute to a black man. He ignored King’s death, refusing to authorize a public tribute.

…When Martin Luther King Jr. died, segregation was openly accepted in the South, even though it was on its last legs, said Akinyele Umoja, an African-American studies professor at Georgia State University.

“Lester Maddox had a strong base. Now, you don’t have that constituency,” Umoja said.

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, who was a young activist in King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said Maddox was the epitome of Jim Crow, racist segregation. “It became a national insult to Dr. King and the King legacy and the whole civil rights movement that was sweeping across the South, bringing about significant change,” he said.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding