Yolanda King dies
Daughter of late civil rights leader was a ‘true friend’ to GLBT community
Published Thursday, 24-May-2007 in issue 1013
Yolanda Denise King, 51, the eldest daughter of the late civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and a friend of the gay community, died on May 15. The cause of death is believed to be heart disease.
King was born in Montgomery, Ala., just two weeks before the start of the Montgomery bus boycott, a landmark in the civil rights movement that helped to establish her father as a leader of that movement. Her house was firebombed when she was just months old. Her father was assassinated when she was 12.
As an adult, Yolanda King gravitated toward Hollywood and a career as an actress and producer. The spirit of the civil rights movement infused her work. The roles she played included those of Rosa Parks and Betty Shabazz, wife of the late Malcolm X. She never married.
Soulforce executive board member Dr. Rodney Powell was with King and other civil rights leaders in Cleveland, Ohio, in May 2000 to protest anti-gay policies of the Methodist Church. He said: “Yolanda reflected with great clarity that Dr. King supported equality and justice for all marginalized people. She felt strongly that her father would have been marching and protesting with Soulforce if he were alive today.”
“Yolanda’s transition is a reminder of how short life on earth can be and should also serve as a catalyst for the continued push for civil rights for all people, including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals. This too was Yolanda’s dream and journey,” said H. Alexander Robinson, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition.
Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese called her “a true friend of the GLBT community, [who] was always eager to lend her talents and support to help advance the mission of many different causes for our community.” King had spoken at the organization’s dinners.
“Like her father, Yolanda King fought for racial and economic justice and challenged America to face up to these scourges. Like her mother, she was an unwavering voice for equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
“To all audiences, with eloquence and passion, she denounced all forms of discrimination while urging all of us to reach across the lines that divide us from each other. We will always celebrate her life and cherish her