For our activist history project, we wanted to find someone who does not receive enough credit or attention for her contributions to our society. Coretta Scott King was a dedicated woman who put her heart into her work and took part in many activist movements to make a different in not only her country, but also the world.
Due to a segregated society, Coretta was exposed to the injustices of life at a very early age. After receiving a scholarship to Antioch College in Ohio and beginning her undergraduate education, Coretta took an active interest in the civil rights movement. She joined the Antioch chapter of the NAACP and also joined and became involved in the Race Relations and Civil Liberties Committees.
Once she completed her undergraduate education, Coretta moved to Boston and met her husband, Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, Coretta worked alongside her husband and was involved in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She performed a series of critically acclaimed Freedom Concerts, combining poetry, narration and music to tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement and she went on to establish an annual award to honor an African American author of an outstanding text for children.
After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia and she was also active in peace movements and spoke out against the war in Vietnam. Furthermore, she was a representative of the Women’s Strike for Peace, so King attended a 17 Nation Arms Reduction conference in Geneva. Coretta also testified in favor of the Full Employment and Balance Growth Act of 1978.
King was behind the 15-year fight to have her husband’s birthday instituted as a national holiday. Her perseverance shined through and she became successful because we now celebrate Martin Luther Kind Jr. Day annually. Along with all of her previous works of activism, Coretta protested against South Africa’s apartheid system, traveled and continued to serve the cause of justice and human rights, wrote regular articles on social issues, was a regular commentator on CNN, and also devoted her energy towards AIDS education and curbing gun violence.
By: Shilpa Raj & Nandu Rami