Poet Maya Angelou remembered her friend Coretta Scott King as a devoted wife, loving mother and a model citizen.
"It's a bleak morning for me and for many people and yet it's a great morning because we have a chance to look at her and see what she did and who she was," Angelou told "Good Morning America" moments after the announcement King had died at the age of 78 on Monday. "When I think of great Americans, she's one of the people I think of."
Angelou described the relationship between Coretta Scott King and her husband, civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., as loving.
"He loved her," Angelou said. "Dr. King was assassinated on my birthday, and so since 1968, Sister Coretta and I have spoken on my birthday. And each time, she can be talking to me about regular things, but when she mentions Martin, her voice always falls a little bit and you can sense the intimacy. … The sweetness of that relationship was always evident."
Coretta Scott King met Martin Luther King Jr. when she was studying music in Boston and he was studying ministry. Coretta Scott King gave up her music to support her husband's crusade for civil rights, Angelou said.
"It's always a hard decision for an artist … to take what God has given you and say: 'Thanks a lot, but I'm going to use it over here,'" Angelou said. "That's a decision that Mrs. King made with God before she made it with Martin King."
Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King were married for 15 years before his assassination. They had four children together.
"The children, I'm sure, are devastated," Angelou said. "She loved them very much."
King's son Dexter runs the Atlanta-based Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which Coretta Scott King helped to develop.
"I know that her life leaned on the children and the center," Angelou said. "Her dreams for the center were so great. … Without her there would not be a King Center in Atlanta."