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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Coretta Scott-King, 1927-2006

Coretta Scott-King passed away in her sleep a couple of days ago and the nation is remembering her. I have to admit to an initial ambivalence toward the late widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. Because that is always how I viewed her – as the widow of a great man and the mother of his children as well as the standardbearer of his memory. In my view, nothing about her set her apart from the man she married. She always seemed to me a sof-spoken, albeit articulate, woman whose very presence brought up the ghost of another.

Only yesterday did I get a glimmer into the woman herself from the words of Rev. Willie Barrow of Operation Push here in Chicago. She set the record straight that Mrs. King wasn’t a backdrop or prop in the drama of her late husband’s life. This mild-mannered, soft-spoken woman was also pivotal in setting the agenda for her husband, in making crucial decisions in the overall civil rights movement. Maybe I should have read more books on her; maybe this was already written down somewhere. But it was my first hearing of it. I am sure there is still so much more I don’t know about the woman I considered sort of an enigma. I didn’t realize that days after King’s assassination, Mrs. King moved forward with an already scheduled march so that her late husband’s plan would not be interrupted by his death. All of this new information puts the late widow in another perspective for me. And it adds gist to the truism “Behind every great man is a great woman.”

Just as Rosa Parks did her part, I’m now more sure that Mrs. King did hers. She wasn’t just an arm prop, a meek helpmeet, a “yes” woman. She was an intelligent, educated woman who stood not behind her man but beside him and suffered along with him and after him. She bravely took up the gauntlet after her husband’s violent death, keeping his voice alive even as she raised their children alone.

So I declare the passing of another civil rights heroine and soldier. After 78 years, she is due her rest. So rest in peace Coretta. You ran a good race.

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 2/01/2006 08:15:00 AM Permanent Link     | | Home


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