Juanita Abernathy, the wife of the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy and one of the last stalwarts who helped birth the modern civil rights movement, has died.
What We Know:
- Abernathy died surrounded by her three remaining children and four grandchildren at Piedmont Hospital. Family spokesman James Peterson confirmed Abernathy died following complications from a stroke.
- Abernathy’s family confirmed her passing in a statement late Thursday, calling her the “last remaining person who was actively involved from ‘day one’ of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Civil Rights Movement.”
- Juanita Abernathy came of age as a civil rights icon at the dawn of the modern movement. She was the wife of Rev. Ralph David Abernathy who pastored a church in Montgomery, AL. The Abernathy’s were close friends of Rev. Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King. She and Rev. Abernathy were instrumental in reshaping America’s cultural and political landscape.
- In January 1957, she survived a bombing of her home by white supremacists while she was pregnant and alone with her toddler daughter, her family said. At the time, her husband and King had traveled to Atlanta to set up the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Her family moved from Montgomery to Atlanta five years later.
- Abernathy and King started the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The two best friends traveled the South, leading efforts to undo American apartheid. Through the years, they shared hotel rooms, jokes, lecterns and jail cells as they fought to dismantle Jim Crow laws, especially insidious voter disenfranchisement of African Americans.
- Abernathy served on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority for 16 years. She also served on the board of the Fulton County Development Authority and on the Board of Directors for Introducing Youth to American Infrastructure.
- Abernathy was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Award from the National Education Association.
- Survivors include her children, Juandalynn Abernathy, Donzaleigh Abernathy and Kwame Abernathy and grandchildren, Ralph Abernathy IV, Christiana Abernathy, Micah Abernathy and Soeren-Niklas Haderup.
Funeral arrangements are pending. We will provided updates here.