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Coretta Scott King, who turned a life shattered by her husband's assassination into one devoted to enshrining his legacy of human rights and equality, has died.
Flags at the King Center were lowered to half-staff Tuesday morning.
"We appreciate the prayers and condolences from people across the country," the King family said in a statement.
"It's a bleak morning for me and for many people and yet it's a great morning because we have a chance to look at her and see what she did and who she was," the poet Maya Angelou said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"It's bleak because I can't --- many of us can't hear her sweet voice but it's great because she did live, and she was ours.
Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, the civil rights activist who is close to the King family, broke the news on NBC's "Today" show: "I understand that she was asleep last night and her daughter (Bernice King) went in to wake her up and she was not able to and so she quietly slipped away.
She was a supportive lieutenant to her husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., during the most tumultuous days of the American civil rights movement.
She goaded and pulled for more than a decade to have her husband's birthday observed as a national holiday, then watched with pride in 1983 as President Reagan signed the bill into law.
The first federal holiday was celebrated in 1986.
"I'm more determined than ever that my husband's dream will become a reality," King said soon after his slaying, a demonstration of the strong will that lay beneath the placid calm and dignity of her character.
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