Yolanda Denise King, 51, the eldest daughter of the late civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and a friend of the gay community, died on May 15. The cause of death was believed to be heart disease.
She was born in Montgomery, Ala., just two weeks before the start of the Montgomery bus boycott, a landmark in the civil rights movement that helped to establish her father as a leader of that movement. Her house was firebombed when she was just months old. She was 12 when her father was assassinated.
As an adult, Yolanda King gravitated toward Hollywood and a career as an actress and producer. The spirit of the civil rights movement infused her work. The roles she played included those of Rosa Parks and Betty Shabazz, wife of the late Malcolm X. She never married.
Soulforce executive board member Dr. Rodney Powell was with King and other civil rights leaders in Cleveland, Ohio in May 2000 to protest anti-gay policies of the Methodist Church. He said, 'Yolanda reflected with great clarity that Dr. King supported equality and justice for all marginalized people. She felt strongly that her father would have been marching and protesting with Soulforce if he were alive today.'
Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese called her 'a true friend of the GLBT community and [ who ] was always eager to lend her talents and support to help advance the mission of many different causes for our community.' She had spoken at HRC dinners.
There will be no public viewing of Yolanda King's body, according to AccessNorthGa.com . She will be cremated, and a memorial service will be held May 24 in Atlanta at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her father preached during the 1960s.
Another service is scheduled to be held in Los Angeles.
—Also contributing: Andrew Davis