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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2006, 02:45 GMT
US presidents honour King widow
President Bush at Coretta King's funeral
President Bush delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Coretta King
Four US presidents were among thousands of mourners who attended the funeral of Coretta Scott King, widow of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

President George W Bush paid tribute to Mrs King, describing her as "one of the most admired Americans of our time".

In the past few days, tens of thousands of people have filed past Mrs King's open casket to pay their respects.

Mrs King, who was 78, is the first African-American and the first woman to lie in honour in Georgia state Capitol.

Former US presidents Jimmy Carter, George Bush Senior and Bill Clinton also gathered to pay their respects.

Tributes

The funeral took place at the New Birth Missionary Church in Atlanta where Mrs King's daughter, Bernice, is a minister.

We pray that we have someone to fill her shoes
Dwight MacMutay
mourner

"I've come today to offer the sympathy of our entire nation at the passing of a woman who worked to make our nation whole," President Bush said. "Coretta Scott King not only secured her husband's legacy, she built her own."

The writer, Maya Angelou, also spoke of Mrs King's legacy.

"Those of us who have gathered here, we owe something from this minute on, so this gathering is not just another footnote on the pages of history," she said.

Flags are being flown at half-mast at all US government buildings, military posts and diplomatic missions abroad.

Mrs King - who died on 30 January - had carried on her husband's work for racial equality after he was assassinated in 1968.

"She leaves us all a better America than the America of her childhood," TV personality Oprah Winfrey said on Monday.

Others who paid their respects to Martin Luther King's widow included the civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Martin Luther King with wife Coretta and three of their four children, in 1963
Coretta Scott King worked to secure her husband's legacy
Waiting outside the Ebenezer Baptist Church where her casket was lying in honour on Monday, Navy sailor Dwight MacMutay said: "She was a great woman. We pray that we have someone to fill her shoes."

He was one of the estimated 100,000 mourners to brave the rain to pay their last respects on Monday.

Thousands more had already filed past her open casket in the state Capitol building over the weekend.

Legacy

Mrs King died in her sleep, after experiencing poor health in recent years.

She met her husband in Boston, married him in 1953, and supported him in his civil rights work.

After his death, she raised their children while working to secure his legacy.

In 1969 she founded the Martin Luther King Jr Centre for Non-violent Social Change in Atlanta.

She saw the establishment of a national holiday to mark her husband's January birthday, from 1986.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See clips of the funeral service



SEE ALSO:
Atlanta mourners honour King wife
04 Feb 06 |  Americas
Widow of Martin Luther King dies
31 Jan 06 |  Americas
Obituary: Coretta Scott King
31 Jan 06 |  Americas


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