Comments by friends and admirers of Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., following her death on Tuesday:

—"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," poet Maya Angelou said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"She was a sister-friend to me, we called each other 'children sisters.' She was a great wife obviously and a wonderful mother and a great woman, a great American. When I think of great Americans she's one of the people I think of."

—"Her loss is shocking not just to the civil rights movement but to progressives throughout the country and the world," said Congressman Charles Rangel of Harlem. "We will miss her. But she certainly picked up the baton when it was dropped by her husband's assassination and continued to move forward in the civil rights arena."

—"She was truly the first lady of the human rights movement. The only thing worse than losing her is if we never had her," the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York said in a statement.

"For those of us that were too young to get to know Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. very well, we got to know Coretta Scott King as a compassionate, caring, yet firm matriarch of the movement for justice. She was kind and gentle with impeccable grace and dignity, yet firm and strong and immovable under issues that she and her husband committed their lives to."

—"The great thing I have is every year for Christmas and birthday I get a birthday card from her. I look forward to Christmas. I look forward to my birthday, because of that. I just love her. You cannot look at her face and tell what she has been through," activist-comedian Dick Gregory told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

—"Mrs. King will be known around the world as her own great leader. I'm just so happy now that she can join her husband Martin," Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks told WSB-TV in Atlanta.