Born in Heiberger, Alabama, in 1927 civil rights activist Coretta Scott King, the wife of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., played a prominent role in continuing his vision of nonviolent protest for civil liberties after her husband’s assassination. King founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in 1968, successfully advocated to coordinate a national holiday to honor her husband, protested apartheid in South Africa, and supported many other human rights campaigns throughout her life. As an author, she published her memoir, My Life with Martin Luther King Jr., in 1969. Further more, King went on to receive the Gandhi Peace Award in 2004 and was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 2009.
On what would have been the 90th birthday of Coretta Scott King, we celebrate the life of this amazing activists by remembering one of her amazing quotes, and 10 interesting facts about Mrs. King.
“Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.” Coretta Scott King
- Coretta’s great-grandmother was the midwife at her birth; she was also a former slave.
- Coretta’s father, Obie, was the first black man to own a truck in the neighborhood.
- At just ten years old Coretta started working to help her family financially. She and her siblings also picked cotton during The Great Depression to earn extra money.
- Coretta is dependent from the Mende people of Sierra Leone.
- During her time in high school, Coretta became the leading soprano in her senior chorus.
- In 1945, Coretta graduated valedictorian from Lincoln Normal School.
- After winning a scholarship, Coretta transferred to the New England Conservator of Music in Boston. She would eventually meet Martin Luther King Jr. while attending the school.
- When Coretta first met King he told her that she had everything he was looking for and wanted a wife. They started dating in early 1952 and in 1953 the two announced their engagement on Valentine’s Day.
- Coretta insisted that the traditional vow “to obey” her husband be removed from their ceremony.
- Though she loved it, she gave up her dream to become a classical singer to join in with her husband and the civil rights movement.
- Coretta Scott King was the first non-Italian to win the Universal Love Award in Verona, Italy.
- She also became the first woman to preach at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England.
- Coretta worked for years to make her husband’s birthday, January 15th into a holiday. It wasn’t until 1986 that she succeeded in making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday, though it always occurs on the 3rd Monday of January.
- As an early supporter of gay and lesbian rights, she gave a speech in 2003 at the 13th annual Creating Change Conference, which was organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
- She converted to veganism for the last ten years of her life.
What’s your favorite Coretta Scott King quote? Let us know.