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Dr. M. L. King's daughter dies

Published May 17, 2007


ATLANTA - Yolanda King, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s eldest child, who pursued her father's dream of racial harmony through drama and motivational speaking, died late Tuesday (May 15, 2007) in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 51.

The family did not know the cause of death, but relatives think it might have been a heart problem.

"She was an actress, author, producer, advocate for peace and nonviolence, who was known and loved for her motivational and inspirational contributions to society, " the King family said in a statement.

Former Mayor Andrew Young, a lieutenant of her father's who has remained close to the family, said Ms. King was going to her brother Dexter's home when she collapsed in the doorway.

Her death came less than a year and a half after her mother, Coretta Scott King, died in January 2006.

Yolanda King, who lived in California ran a production company and appeared in numerous films, including Ghosts of Mississippi. She played Rosa Parks in the 1978 miniseries King.

"Yolanda was lovely. She wore the mantle of princess, and she wore it with dignity and charm, " said the Rev. Joseph Lowery, one of her father's close aides in the civil rights movement. He added she was "thoroughly committed to the movement and found her own means of expressing that commitment through drama."

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who also worked with her father, said: "She lived with a lot of the trauma of our struggle. The movement was in her DNA."

Yolanda King founded and led Higher Ground Productions, billed as a "gateway for inner peace, unity and global transformation." On her company's Web site, she described her mission as encouraging personal growth and positive social change.

Yolanda Denise King - nicknamed Yoki by the family - was born Nov. 17, 1955, in Montgomery, Ala., where her father was a preacher.

[Last modified May 17, 2007, 02:11:44]

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