It’s likely you’ve heard of Coretta Scott King, but have you really heard about her, beyond her role as Martin Luther King’s wife? Here’s some things you need to know about the monumental civil rights activist and all round incredible lady.
- Before MLK had ever spoken out about the Vietnam war, Coretta Scott King was a verbal proponent of international peace.
- After her husband’s death, Coretta created The Center for Non-Violent Change, a not-for-profit organisation designed to educate and train people in non-violent conflict resolution.
- Coretta graduated as valedictorian of her high high school and won a scholarship to Antioch College.
- She insisted that the promise to “obey” her husband was removed from her wedding vows, to make her marriage one of equals.
- Coretta Smith King was also a talented orator, and was the first woman to deliver the Class Day address at Harvard as well as the first woman to preach at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
- Alongside working tirelessly for the civil rights of Black Americans, Coretta also worked for the advancement of women’s rights. She served as a Women’s Strike for Peace delegate to the seventeen-nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, and in 1988 served as head of the U.S. delegation of Women for a Meaningful Summit in Athens.
- Without the Freedom Concerts (fundraisers where the story of the civil rights movement was told through prose, performance, and poetry) the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Conference may well have lacked the funding they needed to challenge Jim Crow laws and tackle white supremacy.
- Coretta Scott King was also an accomplished author, with 3 published books, and a column in a nationally-syndicated newspaper.
- Her work for civil rights was not limited to the United States, and she consulted with many world leaders, including Nelson Mandela, on issues such as ensuring democracy worldwide.
- In addition, she was a supporter of the rights of gay and lesbian Americans, saying “I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation.”
Mrs King was a supportive wife and devoted mother, but she must not be remembered as only those things. In acknowledging her husband’s astounding achievements, we must also remember her own, for she was truly a heroine in her own right.
I’m thinking of making an ongoing series of “Have You Heard About” posts on important people you should probably know something about, so let me know if that’s something you’d like to see. I’ve spent all of today procrastinating, spending hours sewing a lace-trimmed apron rather than getting on with any of the mountains of work I should be doing, so tomorrow is going to be a day of desperately getting everything done. Anyway, that’s it for today, drink lots of water, call someone you love, and have a nice cuppa (especially if the weather where you are is as grim as it is here). Take care of yourself x
“Bad Girls Throughout History. 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed The World” by Ann Shen, published 2016.