US civil rights advocate Juanita Abernathy dies at 88

Juanita Abernathy, who wrote the business plan for the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and took other influential steps in helping to build the American civil rights movement, has died. She was 88.

Family spokesman James Peterson confirmed Abernathy died Thursday at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta following complications from a stroke. In a statement, Peterson says Abernathy died surrounded by her three children and four grandchildren.

The widow of the Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, Juanita Abernathy worked alongside him and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others for the right to vote. She also taught voter education classes, housed Freedom Riders and marched on Washington, D.C., in 1963 seeking passage of what became the Civil Rights Act. Abernathy also was a national sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Funeral arrangements are pending.