“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King was an American civil rights activist and the wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. She established a distinguished career in activism in her own right. Working side-by-side with her husband, she took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and worked to pass the Civil Rights Act.
After King’s death, she founded the Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.
Coretta Scott King was born on April 27, 1927, in Marion, Alabama. Although best known as the wife of 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta established a distinguished career in activism in her own right. Working side-by-side with her husband throughout the 1950s and ’60s, King took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and worked to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Her memoir, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., was published in 1969.
Following her husband’s assassination, in 1968, she continued their work, founding the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. She served as the center’s president and chief executive officer from its inception.
In 1980, a 23-acre site around King’s birthplace was designated for use by the King Center. The following year, a museum complex was dedicated on the site.
King also was behind the fifteen-year fight to have her husband’s birthday instituted as a national holiday—President Ronald Reagan finally signed the bill in 1983.
In 1995, King passed the reins of the King Center over to her son, Dexter, but she remains in the public eye. She wrote regular articles on social issues and published a syndicated column. She had been a regular commentator on CNN since 1980. In 1997, she called for a retrial for her husband’s alleged assassin, James Earl Ray. Ray died in prison before the trial could be effected.
Coretta and Martin Luther King Jr. had four children: Martin Luther King III, who now serves as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Yolanda, an actress; Bernice, a lawyer and Baptist minister; and Dexter; who runs the King Library and Archive. King suffered a heart attack and stroke in August 2005; she died on January 30, 2006.
“Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”
“I’m fulfilled in what I do. I never thought that a lot of money or fine clothes—the finer things of life—would make you happy. My concept of happiness is to be filled in a spiritual sense.”
“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.”