As the body of Coretta Scott King lies in state to be viewed by thousands over the next two days in the Georgia State Capitol rotunda in a singular honor denied her husband in death 38 years ago, controversy still swirls about where and how she died, who is presiding over her funeral, and about the contending wishes of the King children: Martin III, Dexter, Yolanda and Bernice about the future of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta.
Thursday, the alternative medicine clinic where Coretta King died was shut down by Mexican authorities.
The Hospital Santa Monica in Rosarito, owned by chiropractor Kurt Donsbach since 1987 without interference, was located in Baja California. Donsbach, say American officials, has had many ‘run-ins’ with the law over his nutritional supplements and procedures which he claims can cure numerous diseases. Regulation across the border “is weak and corruption is rampant.”
To his critics Mr. Donsbach is a huckster who lures people in fragile condition to his clinic in Mexico with empty promises of revolutionary treatments. ..
To his admirers he is a practical healer who uses a combination of unconventional techniques to help the body’s immune system fight off cancer rather than bombard the body with chemotherapy and radiation.
In another NYT article:
[The hospital]offered people with cancer and other chronic diseases a buffet of unorthodox treatments, from intravenous infusions of hydrogen peroxide and vitamins, to ozone saunas to something he calls microchemotherapy, small doses of cancer-fighting drugs administered with glucose.
This sounds like the kind of alternative therapy sought after by one of my favorite actors, Steve McQueen, almost 26 years ago. McQueen was riddled with mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by asbestos particles either from his stint in the Marines or through his car racing. In the last few months of his life, he sought out the controversial alternative Laetrile treatment in Juarez, Mexico. I remember feeling horrified hearing on the evening news that the surgeons were removing five-pound tumors out of McQueen. That he died soon afterwards from a heart attack did not surprise me. He was on his last dime when he attempted this treatment.
Suffering from advanced ovarian cancer, Coretta King turned to the clinic on the advice of close friends in her church says the New York Times. She arrived at the Hospital on January 26, but at the time of her death, it was alleged, she had not begun any of Donsbach’s treatments.
The funny thing about it, however, is that there was no autopsy performed and a doctor on the Hospital staff signed the death certificate. To him, King died from “respiratory and heart failure.”
The Baja state health commmissioner has other ideas:
Dr. Vera said investigators had found that the clinic lacked proper sanitary permits, practiced unconventional treatments and did not follow federally mandated protocols for patients with terminal illnesses. They also said they had found several unknown drugs or nutritional substances being used that carried Mr. Donsbach’s name. And he said some of the staff members were not accredited to perform the work they were doing.
An autopsy was conducted on Coretta King in Riverside, California under tight secrecy. Her embalmed remains were transported on one of the personal jets of Bishop Eddie Long, the controversial pastor who offered his church for the funeral as well, probably at the behest of the children, but in particular the Reverend Bernice King who participated with him a couple of years ago in an anti-gay march in Atlanta.
And gays are mourning Coretta Scott King as someone who had national moral clout on their side.
William Stosine in USA Today said:
As a gay man, I am also saddened by the passing of Coretta Scott King because in addition to being a tireless, outspoken symbol of the civil rights movement and a human-rights advocate, this great lady spoke out about the struggles of gays and lesbians. She recognized that all forms of bigotry and discrimination are equally wrong.
As Wikipedia states in their bio of Coretta:
She was present at the first inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001, but was vocal in her opposition to capital punishment and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, thus drawing criticism from conservative groups. She was also an advocate of women’s rights, lesbian and gay rights and AIDS/HIV prevention. Her support for gay and lesbian rights, including same-sex marriage, sometimes put her in conflict with some members of her family including her daughter Bernice and her niece Alveda King.
Mubarak Dahir, in his Alternet obituary of Coretta said:
Her history and her standing in the African-American community made her a particularly formidable ally. While many African-American leaders virulently oppose equating the black civil rights movement and the gay rights movement, Mrs. King embraced the obvious parallels. “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood,” she said in a speech in Chicago in April 1998, just days before the 30th anniversary of her late husband’s assassination. “I’ve always felt that homophobic attitudes and policies were unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who believe in democracy.”
Which makes me wonder why Coretta’s funeral will not take place in Ebenezer Baptist, where she made her famous state of civil rights speeches, and where Martin Luther King, Jr. held forth in a family-held sinecure. Or even at a neutral center or place. Instead, it is being held at Bishop Long’s megachurch, the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which is capable of having up 10,000 worshippers.
Bishop Long, he with the small fleet of jets, is infamous for his preachings against homosexuality, abortion, and gay marriage, stands that her daughter the Reverend Bernice upheld, but her mother in life disdained. I have this fantasy that Coretta would do us one last last favor and start spinning in her open casket right in front of the illustrious who will be attending the funeral, which will include, at the last minute, George and Laura Bush, a couple of Long’s good friends. Bush is going to make a speech over Coretta, too. This cynical display is going to vie with Alito showing up for Rosa Parks’ lying in at the Capitol Rotunda for running, jumping and standing gall. He knows he’s not popular among black people, especially after Katrina. This is nothing less than a ploy, probably encouraged by Long. And Long certainly doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state or that women are equal beings before the divine. Moreover, as this article from National Stonewall Democrats indicates:
“We’re not just a church, we’re an international corporation,” Long said. We’re not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can’t talk and all we’re doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around this world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation…”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution has recently reported a rather interesting exposé on Long. According to the AJC article, Long has received a hefty $3.07 million in compensation from his non-profit company and from his church.
…Bishop Eddie Long, one of several black Pastors who met at the White House as part of the Republican effort to boost Black support for the GOP, was questioned about being a closet Republican. The Bishop admitted that he had attended a meeting at the White House but added, “just because we went to the house, doesn’t mean we had intercourse.”
This is the kind of moral shyster that is sidling up to the memory of Coretta Scott King, the widow of the only true American saint and martyr, who became a living symbol in her own right. And her kids are allowing it happen because tacitly, they seem to be giving one last raspberry at their mother. Because she seemed truer to their father’s ideals and what he represented to millions, they seemed more and more wedded to the opposite view.
Before Coretta died, the King Center board, led by Dexter King, voted to pursue a possible sale of the Center to the National Park Service. This move blew open afresh the public and private family bickering over the direction of the Center, to the point where it was said that Coretta became very upset in her weakened condition due to the stroke.
Yolanda is an inspirational speaker and writer; Dexter is a fledgling actor who once played his own father; Martin III is head of SCLC, his father’s organization; and Bernice is a Baptist minister who is said to have inherited her father’s preaching and organizational skills, but unfortunately, that voice is now in the service, in my view, of the dark side. When she was alive, Coretta curbed and upbraided this tendency in her children, but as time has passed, they have refused to relinquish it. In the future remember this: because their last name is King, it does not mean that they automatically aspire to his good words, deeds, or worldview. Coretta knew all of the civil rights advocates who worked with her husband, especially Bayard Rustin, who was a Quaker, a singer and openly gay, who helped organize the March on Washington, and whose input was critized by the likes of J. Edgar Hoover. Coretta was not ignorant when she made those statements for gay marriage and civil rights. She knew exactly what it meant. Her children, however, seem to show little–yet–of the understanding or the compassion or the courage it took for her to keep faith with her husband’s legacy, that rights and humanity for one group could not be limited to just one group. Maybe, of course, they just don’t possess it. And that’s okay. But why flog the name and legacy? Some of this eventually is going to come due.
Preachers and ministers have long been considered both spiritual leaders…and fakes and swindlers. Martin definitely walked that fine line; Coretta must have known what she was getting into marrying a minister. But I would choose Martin over and over again, even his womanizing, over someone like Long and his counterpart, T.D. Jakes who are hooked up with the Christian reich.
The family is considering having King’s body buried at the historically black Southview Cemetery in Atlanta, said Winifred Hemphill, the cemetery association’s president.
Martin Luther King Jr. was originally buried at Southview in the same crypt that now lies in the courtyard of the King Center, near Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he preached in the years before his death. That tomb is a single-person crypt, Hemphill said.
Southview Cemetery was started by nine former slaves in 1886 and is where Martin Luther King Jr.’s parents and maternal grandparents are buried.
Coretta King should be buried next to her husband in dignity and honor as soon as humanly possible, just as Jackie Onassis was eventually interred in Arlington next to John Kennedy. We all will not see her like again for some time.