Yolanda Denise King died Tuesday at the age of 51 in Santa Monica, California. King was born in Montgomery Alabama in 1955. King was the first born child of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. In a statement released by the family it stated that they did not know the cause of death, but believe it may be heart related.
King was the founder and CEO of Higher Ground Productions. The Mission of Higher Ground Productions listed on the website is “to Educate, Empower and Entertain; inspiring individuals to passionately create peace in their own lives thereby encouraging the same within their families, communities and across the globe.”
“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.
King has held a number of lectures and performances through the United States as well as around the world. King demonstrated a commitment in raising awareness of the significance of diversity. King earned a B.A. from Smith College in Massachusetts. After receiving her B.A. she went to New York University earning a Masters degree in Theatre. She has also received two honorary degrees one from Juniata College and the other from Marywood University.
As an actress King had many credits under her belt she played the role of Rosa Parks in the movie “King,” which aired on the NBC-TV, Betty Shabazz in the movie “Death of a Prophet,” starring Morgan Freeman, and Renna in “Ghost of Mississippi” where she was Medger Ever’s daughter.
King was apart of the Board of Directors for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, founding director of the Cultural Affairs Program by the King Center. King was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which was co-founded by her father in 1957. She was also a lifetime member of the National Association for the Advancement of colored People.
Darryle Matthews, Sr. general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc in a press release said King “represented the strength and voice of both parents and expressed it for many years through her artistic gifts. She was a tremendous supporter of all actions the fraternity took over time in honoring the legacy of her father, including the building of the MLK Memorial of which she and her siblings participated in the recent ceremonial groundbreaking and for that we thank her.”
King’s father was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Matthews said the fraternity “proudly honors her life and personal legacy recognizing the fact that her works will continue to enhance the King legacy of promoting peace and freedom for all mankind for years to come.”
King is survived by a sister Reverend Bernice King; brothers Martin Luther King III and Dexter Scott King as well as an extended family. The family will be releasing funeral arrangements shortly.