Inspiring Thursday: Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.”

Coretta Scott was born in Alabama as the third of four children. She studied music and became very politically active afterward. She became most famous as the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a prominent figure of the civil movement in the USA. Although she was always very supportive and stand at Luther King’s side in his fight, she was not only a supportive wife, she was an activist on her own and should be remembered as a humanitarian who pushed for centering women’s voices and promoting equality.

Her activism started before her marriage and follow the assassination of her husband in 1968 where she continued to be active in the civil rights movement. Scott King also recognized the importance of advancing world peace and was the founder of Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Moreover, Scott King was a proponent of elevating women’s voices. She was one of the founders of the National Organization for Women and a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, which are the organizations that focus on the key role of women. Coretta Scott King also represented Women’s Strike for Peace at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. Also as a writer in her book My Life, My Love, My Legacy, she spoke about the importance of representation of women in politics and civil movements.

In addition, Coretta Scott King was an early supporter of the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights. In 1983 in Washington, D.C., she urged the amendment of the Civil Rights Act to include gays and lesbians as a protected class when she said “Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay-bashing, and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages.”

Coretta Scott King died on January 30, 2006. She became the first woman and first African American to lie in honor in the Georgia state capitol’s rotunda. However, her legacy continues to live. She fought a very important fight for African-Americans, LGBT people, and women’s rights and inspire many women. And as she said about her life: “It is a freedom song of struggle. It is about finding one’s purpose, how to overcome fear, and to stand up for causes bigger than one’s self.”

Written by WAVE Intern Mária Trubanová