Civil rights activist, Dr. Christine King Farris, the older sister of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the last surviving member of the King family, has passed away at the age of 95. According to the King Center, Farris died peacefully at her Atlanta home on Thursday.
Born in 1927, Farris was a distinguished educator and advocate for equality throughout her life. She was also the longest-serving member of the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her grandfather, father, and brothers all served as pastors.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens paid tribute to Farris, calling her “a force in her own right” and highlighting her contributions to education and literacy. Farris spent much of her life advocating for equality, and her brother Martin’s legacy served as a blueprint for her work.
Farris attended Spelman College at the age of 16 and went on to earn two master’s degrees in education from Columbia University. She was unable to attend the University of Georgia due to its refusal to accept Black students at the time.
Farris taught at Spelman College for many years and was the college’s longest-serving faculty member until her retirement in 2014. U.S. Senator and senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Raphael Warnock, praised Farris’s remarkable life and the progress she witnessed in American history.
In 1968, following the assassination of her brother Martin Luther King Jr., Farris and her sister-in-law Coretta Scott King established the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change to continue King’s work towards civil rights. The center played a pivotal role in establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national holiday.
Farris is survived by her children Isaac Newton Farris Jr. and Dr. Angela Farris Watkins, as well as her granddaughter Farris Christine Watkins. Her husband, Isaac Newton Farris Sr., passed away in 2017 after 57 years of marriage. Funeral arrangements for Farris have not yet been announced.