Services for King To Be Held in Ga.

By Hamil R. Harris and Steven A. Holmes
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 3, 2006

ATLANTA, Feb. 2 -- The children of Coretta Scott King are planning a final tribute to their mother that will include her lying in state in the Rotunda of the Georgia Capitol, a musical commemoration at Ebenezer Baptist Church and a funeral service at a megachurch where her daughter is one of the ministers, the family said Thursday.

The plans to pay tribute to King, who died Tuesday at 78, do not feature any ceremonies in Washington. That includes lying in repose at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, an honor bestowed on Rosa Parks, whose arrest in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a municipal bus in Montgomery, Ala., sparked a boycott that catapulted King's husband into the national spotlight.

Earlier in the week, the Congressional Black Caucus declined to seek legislation that would have permitted a viewing of Coretta Scott King's body in the Rotunda. Rep. John Lewis, (D-Ga.), himself a veteran of the civil rights movement and a speaker, along with Martin Luther King Jr., at the 1963 March on Washington, said the family did not ask that the body lie in honor in the Rotunda.

Instead, according to a statement released here, King's body will lie in state from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday in the state Capitol. There will also be a viewing on Monday from 10 a.m. to midnight at Ebenezer Baptist Church here. Martin Luther King Jr. and his father served as co-pastors at the church, and the image of a black-veiled Coretta King at her husband's funeral there, holding their youngest child, is an enduring portrait of the civil rights era.

There will also be a musical tribute to King on Monday at Ebenezer Baptist Church Horizon Sanctuary, a newer house of worship across the street from the original church, from noon to 1 p.m. King was an accomplished singer who studied classical music.

The next day there will be a public viewing from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a 25,000-member house of worship in Lithonia, Ga., where her daughter, Bernice, is one of the ministers and which King attended in her later years. King will be buried next to her husband in an elevated tomb at the King Center in Atlanta.

At first, members of the King family were reluctant to have their mother's body on view in a facility run by the government because of long-held suspicion of government involvement in Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. But, in the end, people such as Andrew Young, a former Atlanta mayor and colleague of Martin Luther King's, and Lewis persuaded the family to allow a viewing in the Georgia Capitol.

"They want to define how their mother is remembered and that it not become a political funeral," Young said in an interview.

The use of the Georgia Capitol comes at a time when many of the state's black politicians are locked in a policy debate with Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) over a proposal to require new identification cards for many voters -- a proposal some say would make it more difficult for some blacks to vote.

Several black politicians, including Lewis, boycotted the state's Martin Luther King Day celebration last month. Lewis said, however, that he hopes people will put aside their differences for a day to honor Coretta King.

"There are so many African American lawmakers there who have been inspired by her legacy and Dr. King's legacy," Lewis said. "She must be remembered as a great and dignified woman who was a leader in her own right."

Holmes reported from Washington.


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