Coretta Scott was reared on her parents’ farm in Perry County, Alabama. Young, she was exposed to segregation’s atrocities. She walked five miles to the one-room Crossroads School in Marion, Alabama, while white kids boarded buses. Coretta excelled in school, especially music, and graduated as Lincoln High School’s valedictorian. She graduated in 1945 and attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Coretta Scott joined Antioch’s NAACP branch and Race Relations and Civil Liberties Committees as an undergraduate. She studied concert singing at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston on a scholarship.
In Boston, she met a young theology student named Martin Luther King, Jr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. officiated their 1953 wedding. Coretta Scott King graduated from the New England Conservatory with degrees in voice and violin, and the pair moved to Montgomery, Alabama in 1954, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
They were swiftly swept into the Civil Rights Movement’s dramatic events. Rosa Parks was arrested for breaching local rules that gave white riders preferential treatment on buses. Martin Luther King led a bus boycott in favor of Rosa Parks. The Montgomery bus boycott attracted worldwide attention to the unfairness of segregation in the U.S., and court judgments overturned all municipal regulations segregating races in public.
Dr. King’s impassioned advocacy of peaceful civil disobedience made him the most famous face of the Civil Rights Movement. He and Mrs. King led marches in city after city, motivating black and white individuals to violate segregation laws. Racists criticized Dr. King’s prominence. The King family’s Montgomery house was attacked in 1956. Mrs. King and their first child suffered minor injuries.
Kings’ children were Yolanda Denise, Martin Luther III, Dexter Scott, and Bernice Albertine. Mrs. King resigned from singing to raise a family, but she used her musical expertise in other ways. Her Freedom Concerts used poetry, narrative, and song to convey the Civil Rights Movement’s story. Mrs. King hosted Freedom Concerts to collect money for her husband’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Dr. King’s renown went outside the U.S., and he became the symbol of a worldwide battle for human emancipation from racism, colonialism, and injustice. Dr. and Mrs. King celebrated Ghana’s independence in 1957. They flew to India in 1959 to respect Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolence. Dr. King’s civil rights efforts earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. Mrs. King accompanied her husband to Norway for the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. King was a staunch supporter of economic equality and world peace during the 1960s. Mrs. King was a renowned and highly regarded public speaker in her day. She went down in the annals of history as the first woman to ever give a speech at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was the location of Harvard Class Day. She represented the Women’s Strike for Peace group at the Geneva Disarmament Conference in the year 1962. This conference was held in Geneva. Even before her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., made his public denunciation of the Vietnam War in 1967, Mrs. King was already involved in several worldwide organizations working toward peace and justice.
King was killed in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Mrs. King channeled her sorrow into building a tribute to her husband’s life and aspirations. Mrs. King faced years of planning, fundraising, and lobbying, but she wouldn’t avoid her husband’s causes. My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr. is Coretta Scott King’s autobiography. Mrs. King supported economic fairness in the 1970s. Mrs. King co-founded the Full Employment Action Council in 1974, a coalition of over 100 religious, labor, corporate, civil, and women’s rights groups.
It wasn’t until 1981 that the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, Georgia, became the first establishment in the United States to be named after an African American. The Freedom Hall Complex in Atlanta is home to the King Center, which can be found in close proximity to Dr. King’s final resting place. It is a section of a national historic site that has a total size of 23 acres and encompasses the Ebenezer Baptist Church as well as the birthplace of Dr. King. Dr. King and his father both preached at the church. The King Center Library and Archives is home to the collection that is considered to be the most extensive of its kind in the whole globe. The Center offers seminars, workshops, and many other training programs in order to educate tens of thousands of students, teachers, community leaders, and administrators about the ideology and technique of nonviolence that Dr. King championed.
Mrs. King traveled to a number of nations in Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia on missions of goodwill for justice and human rights. These trips took place in a variety of different countries. In 1983, she was the leader of the Coalition of Conscience, which was a conference of more than 800 human rights organisations. This demonstration was by far the largest one that any capital city in the world had ever witnessed.
Coretta Scott King was the driving force behind the movement to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday. In 1986, the holiday was officially recognized by Congress. Over one hundred countries observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. In 1993, President Clinton extended an invitation to Mrs. King to attend the historic handshake that took place following the signing of the Middle East Peace Accords. In 1985, Mrs. King and three of her children were arrested in South Africa for their participation in anti-apartheid protests. After ten years, she attended Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in Johannesburg and stood with him there.
Mrs. King turned The King Center on to her son Dexter Scott King in 1995. She devoted most of her remaining energy to AIDS education and gun violence prevention. Despite her 2006 death at age 78, she remains an inspiration.
King died of ovarian cancer on January 30, 2006. Several presidents and heads of state attended her burial and expressed sadness at her death. She’s buried with her spouse in Atlanta.