Tributes For Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., speaks during an interview at the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in this Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2004 file photo.
AP
The body of Coretta Scott King arrived in her hometown of Atlanta early Wednesday as tributes poured in for the civil rights icon who died Tuesday at the age of 78.

Four police cars escorted the hearse with King's body to the Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home, located on a street named for the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, the former right-hand man of King's husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Michael Anderson, an attendant at the funeral home, told The Associated Press that no funeral arrangements had yet been made for the woman called the "first lady of the civil rights movement."

King died Tuesday at an alternative medicine clinic in Mexico. Doctors at the clinic said she was battling advanced ovarian cancer when she arrived Thursday. They said the cause of death was respiratory failure.

She is survived by her four grown children, Dexter, Martin Luther III, Yolanda and Bernice. Flags flew at half staff at government buildings in Georgia.

President Bush honored King in his State of the Union address Tuesday night as a "beloved, graceful, courageous" woman who he said carried on a "noble dream."

King stood by her husband's side during the '50s and '60s and after his assassination in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968, became a powerful civil rights advocate in her own right.

"This woman must be looked up as one of these founding mothers of the new America," longtime family friend Congressman Joe Lewis told CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts. "She helped to liberate us all."

The Rev. Al Sharpton said, "She was truly the first lady of the human rights movement. The only thing worse than losing her is if we never had her."

King worked to keep her husband's ideology of equality for all people at the forefront of the nation's agenda. She goaded and pushed 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.

She became a symbol of her husband's struggle for peace and brotherhood, presiding with a quiet, steady, stoic presence over seminars and conferences on global issues.