Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Coretta Scott King dies

Eternal Rest Grant Her and May Perpetual Light shine upon her.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006; Posted: 11:19 a.m. EST (16:19 GMT)

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Coretta Scott King, the widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., died Monday night in California, according to a former aide and a public relations firm representing the family.

Coretta King, 78, suffered a stroke and a mild heart attack last August. She was receiving further medical treatment in California in her rehabilitation.

"This is a very sad hour," U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, told CNN on Tuesday.

"She was the glue. Long before she met and married Martin Luther King Jr. she was an activist," he said.

"She would always admonish us that ... one of the ways you bring about change is, you must change yourself so that you're prepared to lead people in the direction they should go. If your emotions are as bad as those you're fighting, even if your cause is just, you disqualify yourself from being effective," the Rev. Al Sharpton told CNN on Tuesday.

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a family friend, described her as a "matriarch of the movement, a patriot of all that America stands for," in an interview with CNN affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Tuesday, the flag at The King Center in Atlanta, which Mrs. King founded as a memorial to her husband's work and dream after his assassination, was flying at half-staff.

Mourners were stopping at the center to pay their respects, many of them visibly upset, local television stations reported. Some carried flowers.

"We appreciate the prayers and condolences from people across the country," members of the King family said in a statement released by a public relations firm.

Funeral arrangements will be announced once plans are finalized, the statement said.

Mrs. King's last public appearance came January 14 at a Salute to Greatness dinner as part of the Martin Luther King Day celebrations in Atlanta.

She received a standing ovation and, supported on the arms of her children, waved to the crowd.

She did not speak at the event and was in a wheelchair.

'She stood for peace'

Born in Marion, Alabama, on April 27, 1927, Coretta Scott graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She received a B.A. in music and education and then studied concert singing at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She got a degree in voice and violin, according to her official biography.

While there, she met a theology student at Boston University, Martin Luther King Jr. They married on June 18, 1953, in her hometown of Marion.

As the young pastor began his civil rights work in Montgomery, Alabama, Coretta Scott King worked closely with him, organizing marches and sit-ins at segregated restaurants while raising their four children: Yolanda Denise, Martin Luther III, Dexter Scott and Bernice Albertine.

Mrs. King performed in "Freedom Concerts," singing and reading poetry to raise money for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization which Dr. King led as its first president.

The family endured the beating, stabbing and jailing of the civil rights leader, and their house was bombed.

When an assassin's bullet killed her husband in Memphis in 1968, just prior to a planned march, Mrs. King organized her husband's funeral, then "went to Memphis and finished the march," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Tuesday.

"She was a staunch freedom fighter," he added.

Mrs. King turned her grief into the nurturing of her husband's legacy.

She spoke out "on behalf of racial and economic justice, women's and children's rights, gay and lesbian dignity, religious freedom, the needs of the poor and homeless, full employment, health care, educational opportunities, nuclear disarmament and ecological sanity," her biography on The King Center's Web site said.

"I believe what Coretta Scott King would want us to do is continue this march toward progress when it comes to disability rights, women's rights, civil rights -- and not retreat from it," said Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts.

"She wore her grief with dignity," said the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights leader. "She moved quietly but forcefully into the fray. She stood for peace in the midst of turmoil."

1 Comments:

Blogger Nurse Mia said...

Thanks for sharing this news. Terribly sad. I am curious by the line. "She wore her grief with dignity." How does one do that? Hmmm...

6:57 PM  

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