Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

January 17, 2014

More than a widow

In October 2005, Rosa Parks, the Alabama seamstress whose refusal to give up her bus seat for a white rider touched off the civil rights movement, died at 92. Three months later, another influential figure from that time passed: Coretta Scott King.

Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who broke the news of Mrs. King’s death Jan. 31, 2006, told The Associated Press her resolve rivaled that of her late husband, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “She was strong if not stronger than he was,” Young said.

She likely was stronger. She had to be.

She supported and encouraged her husband during the most dangerous days of the civil rights movement. And he was its most revered and reviled leader.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson told the AP she knew each time her husband left home, there was a chance he might not come back. After a trip to Memphis, Tenn., in 1968, he didn’t.

But Coretta Scott King wasn’t just a behind-the-scenes operative in the civil rights movement. She helped organize the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., that Parks started in 1955. She was at home with her first child when it was bombed in 1956. She marched beside her husband from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery in 1965.

And after her husband’s assassination, she founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in 1969 — all the while raising four children.

She knew tragedy, and she probably experienced frequent loneliness. But she never stopped pushing for human rights.

“Like all great champions she learned to function with pain and keep serving,” Jackson said of Mrs. King. “She kept marching. She did not flinch.”

Coretta Scott King died the day before the 70th Black History Month got started. She was more — much more — than the widow of an American hero. She, like her husband, was a civil rights leader.

On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let’s not forget that.

 

 

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