Yolanda King, the eldest child of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., died late Tuesday of unknown causes in Santa Monica, California, The Associated Press reported. She was 51.
“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.
Steve Klein, a spokesman for The King Center, said relatives believe it may have been a heart problem that caused her sudden death although the official cause remains unknown.
In a statement the Reverend Al Sharpton, who spent time with King just three weeks ago, said her death was “stunning and shocking to me personally and to people around this nation and world.”
He remembered her as “the torch bearer for her parents and a committed activist in her own right… Yolanda never wavered from a commitment to non-violent social change and justice for all. She was the first daughter of the civil rights movement and never shamed her parents or her co-activists. As an artist and activist she refused roles that would belittle her family name and tradition. We will miss her greatly.”
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