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Sun, 09.11.1927

Christine King Farris, Teacher, Author, and Professor born

Christine King Farris

*Willie Christine King Farris was born on this date in 1927. She was a Black teacher, author, and college professor.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Christine King was the first child of Martin Luther King, Sr., and Alberta Williams King. She had two brothers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Alfred Daniel King. The three siblings spent their early years in the home of their grandparents, A. D. Williams.  Like her mother and grandmother, Farris attended Spelman College in Atlanta, where she received a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1948. She attended Columbia University in New York and received a master’s degree in social Foundations of Education in 1950.

Farris got her first professional job as a teacher at W.H. Crogman Elementary School, Atlanta, in 1950. The school primarily served students from low-income black households. She earned a second master’s degree in special education in 1958. She returned to Spelman as director of the Freshman Reading Program in 1958. She married Isaac Newton Farris Sr. on August 19, 1960. They had two children: Isaac Newton Farris Jr. and Angela Christine Farris Watkins. Farris endured the 1968 assassination of Brother Martin, the 1969 accidental drowning of Brother A. D., and the 1974 assassination of her mother. Farris did not return to Memphis, Tennessee, since traveling there after her brother’s assassination to retrieve his body.

She attended her sister-in-law’s funerals, Coretta Scott King, and niece Yolanda King. In an interview with CNN, she said she would not attend an April 2008 event marking the 40th anniversary of her brother’s assassination because the painful memories of her last visit to Memphis still haunted her. Farris held a tenured professorship in Education at Spelman and was Director of the Learning Resources Center for 48 years before retiring in 2014.

Farris was, for many years, Vice Chair and Treasurer of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change and had been active for several years in the International Reading Association and various church and civic organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Farris has also published a children’s book, My Brother Martin, and the autobiography, Through It All: Reflections on My Life, My Family, and My Faith.

Her husband, Isaac Newton Farris Sr., died on December 30, 2017, at 83. Christine King Farris died on June 29, 2023, at 95.

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