Coretta Scott King bore many titles, including wife, mother, homemaker, leader, and mentor with unmatched grace and candor. She was more than just Martin Luther King, Jr.’s wife. She was an activist and a leader in her own right. Esteemed as the first lady of the civil rights movement, Mrs. King was often seen standing by her husband’s side during some of the most turbulent times in our history.
In her new book, “My Life, My Love, My Legacy” as told to Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds, Mrs. King explains that it is her hope that people will begin to see her for who she really was. She wanted to give people a chance to know her as a person and not just the wife of a civil rights leader. In her book, she expressed amazement at how different her life had become.
She could hardly imagine it and asked,
“Who could have dreamed that a little girl who began life as a part-time hired hand picking cotton for two dollars a week in the piercing hot sun would rise to a position that would allow her to help pick U.S. mayors, congresspersons and even presidents?”
Born in the segregated south in 1927, King was exposed to learning the value of hard work by her hardworking parents. Yet, her mother insisted on her getting her college education. Money was easy to come by, but the Scotts were going to make a way for their children to acquire the higher education needed to have a chance at a good life.
Once married to Dr. King, her life became about balancing family and her deep commitment to the movement for social change. She shared her husband’s dream of a better world and a better country for their children and the children of tomorrow. It is difficult to not think of Dr. King when you think of Coretta. That is exactly why the book was written.
Mrs. King had gifts and talents the world never knew. This is because her life consisted of mainly fighting the good fight and not performing on the world’s stage. Many may not be aware she was a singer and had learned to play violin. She had earned a B.A. in music and education at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
She then studied concert singing in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music. It was while studying in Boston that she crossed paths with the man who would forever change her fate, Dr. King. Although their lives were welded together as one in many respects, this book is not about what it was like to be Mrs. King.
It is about a woman whose heart bled for her fellow man. She was a catalyst for social change, a true leader and example for women of color. She was an activist who believed in Dr. King’s dream of a better world. She fought tirelessly for the rights of others beside her husband.
After his tragic death, she continued in the fight for equality. In her own words, “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”
How have influential women like Coretta Scott King inspired you? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter: @lcarterwriter.