Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott exchanged vows on June 18, 1953. The ceremony was performed by Reverend Martin Luther King Sr on the lawn of Coretta’s parents home in Marion, Alabama. MLK and Coretta became parents to four children: Yolanda Denise, Martin Luther III, Dexter Scott, and Bernice Albertine.
Yolanda Denise, born on November 17, 1955, was the first-born child of Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King. She was a human rights activist and an actress. Yolanda was active in many projects that honored her late father. In 1978 she played the role of Rosa Parks in a TV miniseries, King, that was based on the life of her father. She was a spokesperson for the National Stroke Awareness Association and active gay rights advocate. Yolanda die suddenly of an assumed heart attack on May 15, 2007 at the age of 51.
The first son born into the King family was Martin Luther King III. Concerned about burdening the child with having to live up to the legacy of MLK Jr. He was only 10 years old when his famous father was assassinated. He headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that was founded by his father and most recently served as director and co-owner of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change with his brother, Dexter Scott King. He spoke at the Democratic National Convention in August of 2008 and it marked two major occasions of note: the first black nomination for president, Barack Obama, and the 45th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech.
Dexter Scott King was born on January 30, 1961. Dexter started out in the same direction as MLK Jr. when he attended Morehouse College. But the younger King left school to become an actor and documentary maker. For a brief time he took the reigns as president of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change but left after a dispute with his mother. Dexter’s life was filled with legal problems that have pursued him to this day. He and his siblings have been in and out of court with accusations of mismanagement and misuse of assets.
And the youngest of the family, Bernice Albertine King, was only five years old when her grieving image was captured as she stood at her mother’s side at Martin Luther King’s funeral. The photograph was taken by Moneta Sleet and was the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize. Even though Bernice was too young to have experienced the crusade that her famous father devoted himself to, she has been a tireless advocate of his legacy.
As for Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King went forward and kept her late husband’s message alive through her social rights activism that continued throughout her life. She embraced many controversial issues including her support of gay marriages and her belief that her husband’s killer, James Earl Ray, was not the real killer of her husband. Coretta passed away in her sleep on January 30, 2006 at the age of 78.