By David Wickert
Edythe Scott Bagley, the elder sister of Coretta Scott King and an active King Center board member, died Saturday at her Cheney, Pa., home.
A family statement said Bagley died peacefully, but no cause of death was given and her age was not available.
“I and my family are deeply saddened by the death of our beloved Aunt Edythe Scott Bagley,” nephew Martin Luther King III said in the statement. “Our Aunt Edythe was a vibrant, brilliant woman and always a source of strength and wisdom for our mother during the difficult challenges of the Civil Rights Movement.
“We will miss her dearly, and she leaves a great void in the hearts of our family and her many friends and colleagues.”
Bagley, a retired professor of theatre arts at Cheyney University, had recently completed a biography of her sister Coretta, which will be published by the University of Alabama Press next year.
Born in Marion, Ala., Bagley was the oldest of the three surviving children of Bernice McMurry Scott and Obie Scott. She was the valedictorian at Lincoln School in Marion and became the first full-time black student in modern times at Antioch College in Ohio. She later transferred and earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University.
Bagley earned a master’s degree in English at Columbia University and taught at Elizabeth City State Teachers College, where she met Arthur M. Bagley, whom she married in 1954. She also taught at Albany State College in Georgia and Norfolk State University in Virginia. She earned a master of fine arts degree in theater arts from Boston University in 1965.
When Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968, Bagley dedicated herself to continuing her brother-in-law’s work. She spoke on radio and TV on behalf of the King Center. She worked on projects to eliminate poverty, racism and war.
Bagley was a consultant in Black Theatre at Michigan State University from 1970-72 and helped develop a theater arts major at Cheyney State College in 1971.
She was involved in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the America Association of University Women and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, among several organizations.
Bagley’s husband, a retired professor and chairman of the Industrial Arts and Technology Department at Cheyney University, died in February. They were married more than 56 years.
She is survived by her son, Arturo Bagley, a professor at The Tower Hill School in Wilmington, Del.; her brother, the Rev. Obie L. Scott Jr. of Greensboro, Ala., and his wife, Alberta Scott; her nephew, Martin Luther King III of Atlanta, his wife, Arndrea Waters King, and their daughter, Yolanda Renee King; her nephew, Dexter Scott King of Malibu, Calif., and her niece, the Rev. Bernice A. King of Atlanta.