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Correta Scott King

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Coretta; The Story of Coretta Scott King Octavia Vivian

Coretta Scott King is widely recognized as the wife of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But in her own right she was a civil rights activist, vocalist and mother of four children. The struggles that she faced in her life were insurmountable. At a young age, she lost the love of her life and raised four children alone. But the grounding factor through all of her trials and tribulations was her strong belief and love of God. Growing up in Alabama in the 1930’s was difficult for an African American woman. Her family struggled even though they owned land and multiple businesses during the depression. Coretta attended a local elementary school and was always at the top of her class. She moved on to Lincoln High School, which was semi-private. Her parents were paying tuition plus room and board and didn’t see her but only on the weekends. Her mother got so frustrated with the whole situation that she bused all of the African American kids to and from school every day. Coretta’s parents told her that she was going to college no matter what. After graduating as valedictorian of her class, she received some assistance from scholarships and attended Antioch College in Ohio. She majored in elementary education with a minor in music. Coretta was a very talented vocalist and singing was her passion. After graduating from Antioch, Coretta was accepted to the New England Conservatory in Boston. Coretta had her share of struggles in Boston, but it would turn out to be the greatest experience of her life. She was introduced to Martin Luther King, Jr. She wasn’t too fond of him at first, but soon grew to care for him deeply. Martin and Coretta began their great love affair in 1952. Despite the great times that they were sharing, Coretta wasn’t sure if she was ready to be the wife of a Southern minister. She struggled with the notion of possibly giving up her dreams of traveling as a soloist and seeing the world. Coretta and Martin were married June 18, 1953 at her parent’s home in Alabama. When both Martin and Coretta finished college, they needed to decide where they would begin their life together. Martin had several offers from Northern churches, Southern churches and a few universities. The King’s finally decided to move to Montgomery, Alabama for Dr. King to work at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Martin made sure that Coretta felt needed and so she helped him with typing his thesis, amongst other things. They lived a fairly normal, newlywed life. The King’s had four children, who all grew to be as successful and empowered as their parents. When the Civil Rights Movement really got under way, Coretta wasn’t left in the shadows. She was very much involved in everything that Martin was doing and did it while raising her children, all without seeing very much of Martin. And not seeing very much of him didn’t faze her or their children at all. “When I think back over my own background and experiences, I felt very strongly that it was meant to be this way.” (Vivian, O. (2006). Abiding Faith In Coretta: The story of coretta scott king. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress. Pp. 56). On the numerous times that Martin was jailed, Coretta was by his side. No matter what the dilemma, she was always there. Coretta and Martin set out on this journey together and never looked back.
The biggest staple in their lives was faith. No matter what the circumstance, God was going to guide them in the right direction and if it was His will for them to fall, so be it. They organized and participated in marches for equal rights, amongst other important causes. When Coretta wasn’t with Martin on his travels, she always wanted somebody to be with him. There was a period that she was very much afraid that the phone would ring or there would be a knock at the door in the middle of the night with bad news of Martin. In her typical fashion, she prayed about it and God told her that if it was meant to be, it would be. And with that Coretta went on about her life. She never let things get her down for very long. She honestly didn’t have the time for it, with raising four children and still being very active in the Civil Rights Movement. One night, Coretta’s fears came to fruition. The phone rang and the Rev. Jesse Jackson was on the other end. He told Coretta that Martin had been shot and that he did not know if he was deceased or not. She raced to the airport to catch a flight to Memphis. Although she was en route, Martin had died in the hospital. Coretta always knew that this was an inevitable part of their journey together, but that it happened too soon. There was so much more to accomplish and without Martin, she wasn’t sure if the Civil Rights Movement could survive. After Martin’s death and funeral, Coretta did not spend time weeping or in a depression. She knew that her purpose was to carry on Martin’s work and be active in the movement. She was still the encouraging and optimistic person that she had been in grade school. Those close to her said that she made it through that first year because of God and her strong will to survive and serve. Although she wanted to continue Martin’s work, her children were still her main focus. She chose her activities wisely but the ones that she did choose she gave her all. Also in that first year on her own, she received an honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters from Boston University, was the first woman to ever speak at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and received the first ever Frances Blanshard Fellowship Award from Yale University. Coretta followed in Martin’s footsteps to a degree and was arrested several times for marching and protesting.
Coretta did was she thought to be her life’s work and did it 110% every time. She established the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change. She never gave up on their dream that they set out so long ago to accomplish. The adversity that the King’s faced throughout their lives was insurmountable, yet she continued on. She continued to give speeches and make appearances up until her death. She suffered a stroke in 2005 and thought to be recovering at home. She died in a Mexican rehabilitation center on January 30, 2006 from what is said to be complications from ovarian cancer.
When choosing this book, I was very skeptical. I knew that Coretta was a very influential woman in history, but didn’t know the never ending struggles that she truly faced. Octavia Vivian did and extraordinary job in writing this book. She was a personal friend of Coretta’s and participated in many of the activities of the movement. This book began to be written even before Dr. King was assassinated and he was even going to write the introduction. To me, it shows that she was genuinely was an honest, strong willed and spiritual person. Octavia used speeches, articles and her own encounters with Coretta to put this biography together. To me, there is not any better material than personal encounters/experiences.
While reading this book, I found out so much that I didn’t know about Coretta, let alone her husband. The information about their childhoods and first encounters was excellent. The fact that Octavia made it a point to include that almost every one of their decisions was made together, as a unit, hit me close to home. I have lived by this in my marriage from day one. In looking back on this book, it was the little things that I learned about the King’s that were the most fascinating. Coretta never wanted to leave their home when there was trouble in sight. She also never showed any type of emotion in front of her children amidst all of the tragedies that they faced as a family. Her strength is something to think about when you think that you’re having a bad day.
This book most certainly changed my opinion of Coretta Scott King. I always thought that she was just the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I can honestly say that I don’t know that I ever gave her another thought. Prior to reading this book, to me she was just his widow and somebody who made appearances every once in a while. After reading this book and re-reading most parts, she is somebody for me to admire. Her strength alone is enough to remember, let alone all of her other accomplishments. She is, in my opinion, one of the most memorable women in U.S. history.
Coming from somebody who loves to read, I would definitely recommend this book. If you are a casual reader, lover of history or biographies, this is the book to read. There was so much more to Coretta than just being Dr. King’s wife. She was behind him in everything that he did, but she still maintained her individuality. She is an inspiring person and this book is a great mix between a biography, historical accounts and almost a self help type. I already recommended for my mom to read it and did so via my nook. I think that everybody likes a little bit of history every now and then. Coretta Scott King was an amazing woman and deserves all of the credit and attention that she received in this book.

Vivian, O. (2006). Coretta: The Story of Coretta Scott King. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishers.…...

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