ATLANTA – Coretta Scott King (search) was hospitalized in fair condition Wednesday after what two family friends described as a stroke.
The 78-year-old widow of Martin Luther King Jr. (search) was conscious and her vital signs were stable, but she likely will remain in the hospital for at least another day, Piedmont Hospital spokeswoman Diana Lewis said.
The King family declined to publicly discuss her condition but issued a statement thanking supporters.
"Please continue to keep her and us in your thoughts and prayers as she moves toward a speedy and complete recovery," Martin Luther King III (search) said in the statement.
The Rev. Joseph Lowery and poet Maya Angelou (search) said Wednesday that King had suffered a stroke, and Lowery said she was having difficulty speaking.
Angelou, a personal friend of King's, said she had spoken by phone with King a few weeks ago about her health problems and planned to go to Atlanta to see her.
"She's my sister friend and I pray for her and her children," Angelou said in New York. "Everybody, please give a good thought, a positive thought for Coretta."
King had canceled some recent public appearances, raising concerns about her health. Quoting unidentified friends, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday that she was diagnosed with a heart malady this spring and has had several small strokes since then before the more serious one Tuesday.
Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which Martin Luther King Jr. helped found in 1957, said he was initially told by someone in King's office that she did not have a stroke, but he was immediately skeptical because the family is "very protective of her condition."
"She did have a stroke, take my word for it," Lowery said.
At a June 30 ceremony at the Georgia State Capitol paying tribute to the King family, Martin Luther King III said his mother was "doing well" and was following doctor's orders to limit her activities. He gave no details.
The Alabama-born Coretta Scott was studying at the New England Conservatory of Music when a friend introduced her to King, then a young Baptist minister working toward a Ph.D. at Boston University. They married in 1953 and had four children.
After his assassination in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968, she founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta and traveled widely to help foster her husband's dreams.
The doors to the King Center were locked Wednesday and no one immediately returned calls seeking further detail.