Thursday, May 24, 2007

Remembering Yolanda King

Born in Montgomery, Alabama, King was a human rights worker and actress. She was the oldest daugther of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Incorporated (the official national memorial to her father) and was founding Director of the King Center's Cultural Affairs Program. Shealso served on the Partnership Council of Habitat for Humanity, was the first national Ambassador for the American Stroke Association's "Power to End Stroke" Campaign, a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a sponsor of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Human Rights Campaign, and held a lifetime membership in the NAACP.

Yolanda Denise King received a B.A. degree with honors from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, a Masters degree in Theatre from New York University and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Marywood University. In 1978 she starred as Rosa Parks in the TV miniseries King (which was based on her father's life and released on DVD in 2005). She often collsborated with the playwright Attallah Shabazz, the oldest daugther of Malcolm X. Ms. King was a spokesperson for the national stroke awareness association.

On May 15, 2007, King died at age 51 in Santa Monica, California. She collapsed in the doorway of her brother Dexter King's home and could not be revived. Her family has speculated that her death was caused by a heart condition. A public memorial for Yolanda King will be held today (May 24th) at Ebenezer Baptist Church Horizons Sanctuary, the church where her father and his father before him once preached. There will not be a public viewing. King will be cremated. I was very fortunate to recieve a photo from her wake which my brother sent me and which I'd like to share with you. I'm sure that all our prays are with the family. May she rest in peace.

Research info from:

Today's poem:

With An Accompanying Soundtrack

Later, the truck is pulled out of the murky
water as brave bystanders look on.

More apples than water. A photograph of her standing
next to an open window. The tea water boiling. More
like a 60-watt smile. Or a sign that says "For Day Use
Only". Cathedral or river. Tire tracks along a muddy
bank. Weeds wishing they could be more brazen. The
sound a busted screen door makes. "Home to me is
anywhere there are rolling hills that work up to one
gentle plateau", she says, while adding more sky to the
branches of our backyard tree. "Yeah, and there's sun
in your hair even at midnight", I reply, searching for
the bottle opener before our dam wakes up. Or try to
imagine the sun as a yellow stain on the horizon...

a forest cut away for a causeway...
more natural phenomena still unexplained.

And how the land says so much as it wades ankle-deep
in a row of porcelain wash basins...

air balloons drifting over a heelless crater.

Then gradually darker, into a blood-orange perhaps.

This poem first appeared online at:
Copyright 2007 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.
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