Women and Adversity: Coretta Scott King
Writer, Civil Rights Activist
Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s widow, carved a place for herself in the history of the civil rights movement. She grew up in Alabama and experienced discrimination from childhood. She walked five miles to school each day while white students were bussed to a school closer than the one she attended.
Mrs. King excelled in school, especially in music, and received a scholarship to Antioch College in Ohio in 1945. After receiving her degree, she won a scholarship to study concert singing at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
She met her husband, then a theology student, in Boston and the couple married in 1953, but Mrs. King completed her studies at the Conservatory and earned a degree in voice and violin in 1954.
Dr. King accepted an appointment as pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL in 1954, and the couple became prominent in the Civil Rights Movement when Rosa Parks was arrested for not yielding her seat to a white. Dr. King organized a boycott of Montgomery city busses, and the couple led the way to civil rights in America.
After her husband’s death in 1968, Mrs. King founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. She published “My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr.” in 1969 and continued her civil rights activism. She wrote several books, countless articles and made personal appearances in support of civil rights. She led the campaign to establish Dr. King’s birthday, Jan. 15, as a national holiday, and President Reagan signed it into law. It was first observed in 1986.
The couple had four children. Mrs. King died in 2006.