Written by | Ray Cornelius 

I had the pleasure of attending an entertainment tribute to the late Yolanda D. King Saturday night in Atlanta. The celebratory event took place at the historic King Center’s Freedom Hall, just three days before what would have been Yolanda’s 60th birthday.


Dr. Bernice A. King talked about Yolanda D. King’s love for the arts

The two-hour program featured a variety of Yolanda’s favorite entertainers including Atlanta’s own jazz greats—Milkshake and Theresa Hightower, opera singer Juandalynn Abernathy, and comedian Jonathan Slocumb. The Love Boat’s Ted Lange served as the evening’s emcee along with Atlanta stage actress Donna Biscoe. Other highlights included The Ballethnic Dance Company and heartfelt tributes by Yolanda’s siblings—Dr. Bernice A. King, Martin Luther King III and Dexter S. King.DSC_0127

Milkshake performing “The Impossible Dream”

The evening was titled, “The Dream Girl,” after Yolanda’s favorite musical and movie, Dreamgirls. More than that, it also spoke to her career as an accomplished actress and activist. Yolanda D. King regularly appeared on stage as well as in numerous television shows and films including Ghost of Mississippi, Selma, Lord, Selma, JAG and Strong Medicine. She was also the founder of Higher Ground Productions and was the chief overseer of the King Center’s Cultural Affairs Department.


Yolanda D. King as Miss Bright in Selma, Lord, Selma 

The family closed out the program with an original tribute by Little Miss Yolanda R. King, daughter of Martin Luther King III and Arndrea Waters King. She was named after her “Aunt Yoki” and was born on the day she was cremated. The King siblings also announced that they were dedicating Freedom Hall to their sister’s legacy by renaming it “The Yolanda D. King Theatre for the Performing Arts.”

Check out more photos from the evening below:


Ted Lange performed with Yolanda D. King in several stage productions


Ballethnic performing to Dr. Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman”


Milkshake performing the “Impossible Dream”


Theresa Hightower performing the classic “Here’s To Life”


Ballethnic founder Nena Gilreath dancing to Dr. Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”


Martin Luther King III during his tribute to Yolanda D. King


Home movies of Yolanda D. King, affectionately called “Yoki” were also shown


Jonathan Slocumb was Yolanda D. King’s favorite comedian


Donna Biscoe served as one of the evening’s emcees


Theresa Hightower, Juandalynn Abernathy and Milkshake on stage


Little Miss Yolanda R. King reading an original tribute to her late aunt


Valerie Kinsey Harris (The Kinsey Group) with Donna Biscoe


Jazz vocalist Theresa HightowerDSC_0198

Veteran actor and star of The Love Boat Ted Lange


Arndrea Waters King with daughter Yolanda R. King


Dr. Bernice A. King posing with family and friends


Happy Birthday  to Yolanda D. King 

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com