YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio – June 13, 2011 – Antioch College alumna Edythe Scott Bagley, the older sister of Coretta Scott King and one of the first African American students recruited through the College's Interracial Education Scholarship, died in her Pennsylvania home, the Associated Press reported Sunday. She was 86.
Bagley had been an active member of the board of directors for the Atlanta-based King Center since it was founded in 1968 and was also a retired professor of theatre arts at Cheyney University, the AP reported.
"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," said Martin Luther King III, her nephew, in a statement to the AP. "We will miss her dearly, and she leaves a great void in the hearts of our family and her many friends and colleagues."
Antioch College was the first predominantly white college in America to admit students of color. The first black students enrolled at the college in the 1850s. The earliest black graduate, Alfred Hampton, earned his degree in 1888.
Edythe Scott, the valedictorian of her high school class, was recruited to Antioch in 1943 as part of the Interracial Education Scholarship, the College's first effort to actively recruit black students. Her sister, Coretta, followed two years later. A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. and U.S. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton are among some notable black alumni of the College.
Bagley transferred to Ohio State University and after graduating taught students in Alabama and North Carolina, the AP reported.
After Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, Bagley worked with her sister, Martin's widow, to promote civil rights. She occasionally represented Coretta Scott King at events, and made radio and TV appearances on behalf of the Center for Nonviolent Social Change, the AP reported.
In 1971, she joined Cheyney's faculty and was charged with developing a theatre arts major. The program was approved in 1980.
She is survived by her son Arturo, who is teaching at a Delaware school, a brother and several nieces and nephews. Arthur Bagley, her husband of 56 years, died in February 2011. The funeral will be June 17 at 1 p.m. in West Chester, Pa. Her family is also planning a memorial service celebrating her life in July in Marion.
Last summer, the alumni of Antioch College honored Bagley with the Walter F. Anderson Award, which recognizes students, alumni, faculty and friends of the College who have made significant and courageous contributions to the Antioch College mission. Bagley received the award with William David Chappelle III and Jim Dunn will, who were honored posthumously for their contributions to the college.
Gariot P. Louima
Chief Communications Officer