The sanctuary at Calvary Episcopal Church in Downtown Memphis was the destination point for an eclectic group of people assembled for the homegoing service for Georgia Anna King, also known as “Mother King” and “Queen Akua.”
“Mother King could bring people together that normally would never be in the same circle,” said Dr. Carnita Atwater, who delivered the eulogy last Friday (February 17). “She built bridges between human needs.”
A seemingly ever-present voice for social justice issues, Mother King died on Feb. 7. She was 82.
Comfortable in any setting, Mother King always came as herself, adorned in an African headwrap and clothes that reflected her strong roots in her African heritage. With style and grace, she was about the business of advocating for economic empowerment for distressed communities, the poor and the homeless.
Dr. Atwater said most did not know the health challenges Mother King faced. That, she said, was because Mother King would flash her “big beautiful smile” while pushing on and forward.
At the time of her death, Mother King was working to open Miracles Mission for the Homeless on South Main Street. She wanted to devise long-term solutions for the homeless problem.
No one really needed to deliver a eulogy for Mother King, said Atwater, noting that her work was her eulogy.
Dr. Atwater, who knew Mother King for decades, implored those at the homegoing to follow in Mother King’s footsteps regarding “devotion to this community” and working responsibly.
She described Mother King as a change agent.
“I just believe that Mother King, if she had the opportunity, she could have stopped the January 6th insurrection. I just believe that Mother King could have changed the heart of President Trump,” said Dr. Atwater.
And, she added, had Mother King been around the night Tyre Nichols was stopped by Memphis police “I believe … she could have humbled those officers’ spirit.”
Calvary Episcopal Church is the sister church to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, where Mother King was a member. Dr. Atwater said she never heard Mother King identify herself as a Christian yet saw her always move and relate to others in a God-like manner.
She was, said Dr. Atwater, “a pillar of what a faithful and diligent soul was.”
During her 60-plus years of community service, Mother King founded the Greater Works Ministry, Housing Now Task Force and the Memphis Bus Riders Union.
A line in the funeral program reflected Mother King’s view of life in her own words:
“There is always work to be done.”
As the procession flowed out of the sanctuary onto N. 2nd St., African drums sounded a farewell.