Activist, mother and political powerhouse Coretta Scott King would have celebrated her birthday today, April 27th.
Born and raised in Marion, Alabama in 1927, Coretta Scott graduated valedictorian from Lincoln High School and later received a B.A. in music and education from Antioch College in Yellow Springs Ohio. She followed this degree by going on to study concert singing at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music, where she earned a degree in voice and violin. While although sources claim that Boston wasn’t her first choice of universities, it was clear that faith had another plan, seeing as though spending time in Boston is where she met the young Martin Luther King, Jr. who was then studying for his doctorate in systematic theology at Boston University.
After spending time together they were married on June 18, 1953, and in September 1954 they took up residence in Montgomery, Alabama, where Coretta Scott King then assumed many responsibilities of pastor’s wife at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
While it is true that Coretta was a huge activist for the rights of African Americans, it wasn’t until after her husband’s assassination in 1968, that Mrs. King decided to move forward and quicker with her and her late husband’s plans for the success of African Americans. Later founding and devoting great energy and commitment to building and developing programs for African Americans in her area, one of these programs included the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which she created as a living memorial to her husband’s life and dream. As founding President, Chair, and Chief Executive Officer, she dedicated herself to providing local, national and international programs that have trained tens of thousands of people in Dr. King’s philosophy and methods.
She also guided the creation and housing of the largest archives of documents from the Civil Rights Movement, making sure that this vast history was never lost. Mrs. King later spearheaded the massive educational and lobbying campaign to establish Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday. In 1983, congress instituted the Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday Commission, which she chaired for its duration. Throughout Mrs. Kings life she tirelessly carried the message of nonviolence to almost every corner of our nation and globe, speaking at many of history’s most relevant peace and justice rallies. She was also the first woman to deliver the class day address at Harvard, and the first woman to preach at a statutory service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Mrs king is noted as one of the most influential African-American leaders of her time, receiving honorary doctorates from over 60 colleges and universities; she has authored three books and a nationally-syndicated newspaper column all while serving on the chairs of dozens of organizations, including the Black Leadership Forum, the National Black Coalition for Voter Participation, and the Black Leadership Roundtable.
Passing in January 2006, Mrs. King met with heads of state, including prime ministers and presidents who have all addressed and viewed her as just as important if not more than them, during her lifetime.
Today we honor her and her plethora of achievements, all of which have led to the empowerment of black woman and girls just like her, as well as the overall culture as a whole.
Happy birthday Queen!