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Christine King Farris, sister of Dr. Martin Luther King, dies at 95

<i>Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images</i><br/>Christine King Farris delivers remarks during the 'Let Freedom Ring' commemoration event
Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images
Christine King Farris delivers remarks during the 'Let Freedom Ring' commemoration event

By Devon M. Sayers and Justin Gamble, CNN

(CNN) — Christine King Farris, the eldest sister of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., died Thursday, according to a Twitter post by her niece, Rev. Bernice King.

“I love you and will miss you, Aunt Christine,” Rev. King wrote.

She was 95, the King Center said in a news release announcing Farris’ death.

Martin Luther King III, Rev. Bernice King’s brother, also remembered his aunt, writing on Twitter, “Aunt Christine embodied what it meant to be a public servant,” and that his aunt, just like his dad, spent her life fighting for equality and against racism.

“She defied the odds that held back too many marginalized communities – going on to become a civil rights leader and acclaimed author,” he wrote.

“We will truly miss my Aunt but know that she leaves behind a tremendous legacy that will outlive us all and we commit to carrying that legacy on for future generations,” MLK III added.

Farris’s “life overflowed with acts of service, love, and education that inspired the world for nearly a century,” the King Center said in its statement.

Farris was the first child of Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. She would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics from Spelman College and later master’s degrees in social foundations of education and special education from Columbia University.

She was a founding board member and longtime volunteer of the King Center, which was founded By MLK Jr.’s wife in 1968, and together they began a memorial library “documenting Dr. King’s journey and the civil rights movement that same year,” the King Center said.

In a statement following her death, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens called Farris a “champion of literacy and education.”

“Mrs. Farris was a force in her own right,” the mayor said. “As the last of the King siblings, she spent much of her life advocating for equality. She once said that her brother Martin, simply gave us the blueprint, but it was our duty ‘to carry it out.”

Farris was one of the longest-serving tenured professors at Spelman College, teaching at the all-women’s institution for more than five decades, according to the King Center.

She was also one of the longest-serving members of Ebenezer Baptist church – a church where her grandfather, father and brothers served.

A celebration of life will be announced at a later date, the King Center said.

US Sen. Raphael Warnock, who is also senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, called Farris an “iteration of the American dream.”

“She went on to witness the long arc of American history bend from many changes, much of it pushed forward by her own brother,” the senator said, adding, “As her pastor, I can say that up until the very end, she embodied hope, dignity, and a deep faith. Long live the memory of Christine King Farris.”

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