From the pages of a new biography, Coretta Scott King emerges from the shadows, the margins of history and more importantly the labels of wife of, mother of, leader of — which while correct never went deeply enough to reveal the fullness of her life.
In this book, readers will see both character and courage, a woman who was not only married to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but was also married to the movement of which she was a partner.
Founder of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, she commissioned the Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds to write her memoir, Coretta Scott King Story: My Life, My Love, My Legacy, which is being released tomorrow by Henry Holt and Co.
Reynolds, a journalist and author of six books, first came into contact with King in 1975 when she was assigned to write a magazine article for the Chicago Tribune. From that encounter, a 30-year life-changing relationship of mentorship and friendship evolved, resulting in King turning to Reynolds, an ordained minister, to write about her most noteworthy accomplishments, but also her deepest pain and setbacks.
Coretta Scott was born in April 27, 1927, into the troubled and twisted times in Alabama, where her house was burned down as a teenager. Nearly three decades later, she was in her home with her 2-year-old daughter, Yolanda, when her home was firebombed during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. Although she never knew if the same hate that killed the love of her life would also claim her life and those of her children, she refused to step aside even as threats continued long after the assassination of her husband.
In her own voice, she describes moving on through many lonely days as the architect of her husband’s legacy. She worked tirelessly to establish and develop the King Center as a quasi-international West Point of non-violence, lobbying for 15 years for a national holiday in honor of her husband and campaigning for the rights of the disadvantaged around the globe and at home.
“I believe Martin was chosen,” she points out in her memoir, “I believe I was chosen, and I say to the kids, this family was chosen as well.”
Reynolds says that for the first time, Coretta Scott King talks candidly about her marriage and the rumored reports of her husband’s infidelity. “She offers her thoughts on some unproductive characteristics within the inner circle of the Civil Rights Movement,” Reynolds adds, “and on the reasons behind SCLC co-founder Ralph Abernathy’s unfavorable characterization of Dr. King in his autobiography.”
This historic work also includes the reflections of her daughter, the Rev. Dr. Bernice King, and legendary leaders such as Maya Angelou; former U.N. Ambassador and U.S. Rep. Andrew Young; Myrlie Evers-Williams, a past chairman of the NAACP and widow of assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers; and U.S. Rep. John Conyers, who played a major role in legislating the King Holiday bill.
Reynolds views Coretta Scott King as one of the world’s most trusted moral leaders and effective disciples of non-violent direct action. “She left a model of self-less, compassionate leadership that is sorely needed today.”
Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds will discuss the memoir, Coretta Scott King Story: My Life, My Love, My Legacy, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington, D.C.
King’s Letter Against Jeff SessionsThe Senate recently voted to confirm Jeff Sessions, whom Coretta Scott King criticized in a 1986 letter. The Rev. Bernice King lashed out against Republicans for stopping Sen. Elizabeth Warren from reading the letter during Sessions’ confirmation hearings. Click here to read more:https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/08/coretta-scott-king-daughter-bernice-elizabeth-warrenHere’s a link to the letter opposing Sessions as a federal district court judge in Alabama: