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Dr. Willie Christine King Farris Makes It To The Mountaintop, Dies at Age 95

September 11, 1927 – June 29, 2023

The Atlanta Inquirer was there as Dr. Willie Christine King Farris and friends and family gathered on September 11, 2022 to celebrate her 95th birthday at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Though she was 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.

She died in Atlanta on June 29, 2023.

King Farris was the first child and only daughter of Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Christine Williams King. She was the oldest sibling to brothers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Alfred Daniel Williams King. Her mother, Mrs. Alberta Christine Williams King (1904 – 1974), “Mother 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. Mother King, longtime Ebenezer musician, was shot and killed at the organ on a Sunday in 1974.

Like her mother and grandmother before her, W. Christine King Farris attended Spelman College in Atlanta, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1948. She wanted to continue her studies at the University of Georgia but was refused because UGA did not admit Blacks at the time. King Farris also received a Master’s degree in Social Foundations of Education in 1950 from Columbia University in New York. She also earned a master’s degree in Special Education in 1958.

She married Isaac Newton Farris, Sr. on August 19, 1960. They had two children: Isaac Newton Farris Jr., and Angela Christine Farris Watkins. Her husband, Newton Farris, Sr., died on December 30, 2017 at the age of 83.

She was a teacher at W. H. Crogman Elementary School in Atlanta, teaching Black students. She returned to Spelman as director of the Freshman Reading Program in 1958. Farris held a tenured professorship in Education and was Director of the Learning Resources Center for 48 years before retiring in 2014.

King Farris was vice chair and treasurer of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change and was active for several years in the International Reading Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Farris also published a children’s book, My Brother Martin, and an autobiography, Through It All: Reflections on My Life, My Family, and My Faith.

She is survived by daughter Angela Farris Watkins, son Isaac N. Farris, Jr., the King family and a host of relatives and friends.


Mrs. W. Christine King Farris in the Mountain, Photo by Horace Henry
Mrs. W. Christine King Farris in the Mountain, Photo by Horace Henry
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

Last updated on July 1, 2023

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