Yolanda Denise King (November 17, 1955 – May 15, 2007) was an American activist and first-born child of civil rights leaders Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. She was also known for her artistic and entertainment endeavors and public speaking. Her childhood experience was greatly influenced by her father's highly public and influential activism.
Born two weeks before Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a public transit bus in Montgomery, Alabama, she occasionally experienced threats to her life, designed to intimidate her parents, and became a secondary caregiver to her younger siblings and was bullied at school. When her father was assassinated on April 4, 1968, the 12-year-old King was noted for her composure during the highly public funeral and mourning events. She joined her mother and siblings in marches, and she was lauded by such noted figures as Bill Cosby and Harry Belafonte, the latter establishing a trust fund for her and her siblings.
On May 15, 2007, King stated to her brother Dexter that she was tired, though he thought nothing of it due to her "hectic" schedule. Around an hour later, King collapsed in the Santa Monica, California home of Philip Madison Jones, her brother Dexter King's best friend, and could not be revived. Her death came a year after her mother died. Her family has speculated that her death was caused by a heart condition. In the early hours of May 19, 2007, King's body was brought to Atlanta, Georgia by private plane belonging to Bishop Eddie Long. A public memorial for Yolanda King was held on May 24, 2007, at Ebenezer Baptist Church Horizon Sanctuary in Atlanta, Georgia. Many in attendance did not know her, but came out of respect for the King family's history of non-violence and social justice. King was cremated, in accordance with her wishes. She was 51. All three of her siblings lit a candle in her memory.