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Christine King Farris Celebrates 95th Birthday

Civil Rights Activist Honored with ‘Choir Rehearsal’ Extravaganza

Dr. Willie Christine King Farris turned 95 on September 11, 2022, and friends and family gathered to celebrate on Sunday, September 11th at 4:00 pm. Though she is known as the sister to the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she was heavily involved as a Civil Rights activist herself… along with her parents, brothers and sister-in-law Coretta Scott King.

The wonderful celebration was hosted by Cassi Davis Patton, mistress of ceremony, and was an exciting occasion featuring fond remembrances of Christine King Farris, sister and last remaining sibling of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event featured a vast array of Christian, Gospel music and was held at the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

The program included Negro Spirituals, led by Dr. Joyce Finch Johnson, Spelman College’s professor emeritus of Music and college organist. Dr. Patrice E. Turner, choral leader and director of Worship and the Arts at Ebenezer Baptist Church directed the Ebenezer Baptist Church Combined Choir, and Denise Willingham Huewitt directed the Christine King Farris Handbell Choir which had long been named in honor of the celebrant.

Reverend Natosha Reid Rice, Minister for Public Life of All Saints Episcopal Church led the congregation in prayer, and Tamika Patton-Watkins led “How Great Thou Art.” That was followed by a wonderful video tribute of King Farris, the eldest of both brothers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968) and Reverend Alfred Daniel “A.D.” King (1930 – 1969).

The Honorable Reverend Raphael G. Warnock, Senior Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and Senator of Georgia, and Reverend Bernice A. King, CEO of the King Center, spoke highly and favorably of King Farris.

“I’ve Been Buked” was led by Laura English Robinson, professor emerita of Spelman College. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park’s Superintendent Judy Forte spoke.

U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young also spoke fondly and reminisced about King Farris and the King family and their trials and tribulations throughout the Civil Rights Movement. He also led the congregation in songs, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round” and “I Love Everybody In My Heart.”

Morehouse College’s Uzee Brown, Jr., Clark College’s Ella Lewis, and Spelman’s Dr. Paula A. Grissom-Broughton led the church with “Ain-a That Good News,” “Ain’t Got Time To Die,” “Have A Little Talk with Jesus,” and “Everytime I Feel the Spirit.”

Recording artist Angel Taylor Capehart (of Trin-i-tee 5:7) sang “I Surrender All.” “Wade in the Water” was led by the Spelman College Glee Club and director Dr. Kevin Johnson. Ebenezer’s Deacon Phillip G. Finch led “A Charge To Keep I Have.”

Gospel artist Lydia Pace (of The Anointed Pace Sisters) sang “Lily in the Valley,” “I Know I Got Religion,” and “Old Ship of Zion.”

“I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” and “Lead Me, Guide Me” were led by the Atlanta Chapter of The Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) and director Maestro Kenneth Lowe.

Gospel artist Dottie Peoples shared stories of her dear friend King Farris and led the congregation in “On Time God.”

King Farris’s daughter Angela Farris Watkins and son Isaac N. Farris, Jr. shared loving memories and acknowledgements.

The program did not end before remembering and acknowledging Mrs. Alberta Christine Williams King (1904 – 1974), “Mother King.” Mrs. Alberta Christine Williams King was a staunch supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and supported efforts for racial equality along with her husband and Ebenezer Senior Pastor Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. She, longtime Ebenezer musician, was shot and killed at the organ on a Sunday in 1974.

The program, lovingly and aptly entitled “Choir Rehearsal,” ended with West Hunter Street Baptist Church’s Minister of Music Maestro Jarvis R. Wilson, Farris Christine Watkins, granddaughter of the honoree and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”; Maestro Kenneth Lowe singing “If I Can Help Somebody”; and closing prayer by Greater Works Ministries Pastor Apostle Darryl L. Winston.


Isaac Farris, Christine King Farris, Angela Farris, Bernice King, Photo by John B Smith, Jr, 2022-09-11
Isaac Farris, Christine King Farris, Angela Farris, Bernice King, Photo by John B Smith, Jr, 2022-09-11
Carolyn Young, Billy Suber Aaron, Henrietta Antoinin, Ambassador Andrew Young, Photo By John B. Smith, Jr., 2022-09-11
Carolyn Young, Billy Suber Aaron, Henrietta Antoinin, Ambassador Andrew Young, Photo By John B. Smith, Jr., 2022-09-11
Ambassador Andrew Young Speaks, Photo by John B Smith, Jr, 2022-09-11
Ambassador Andrew Young Speaks, Photo by John B Smith, Jr, 2022-09-11

Last updated on September 15, 2022

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