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If you like Coretta Scott King's story, you might also like:
Hank Aaron,
Maya Angelou,
Benazir Bhutto,
Benjamin Carson,
B.B. King,
Frank M. Johnson,
John Lewis,
Rosa Parks,
Sidney Poitier,
Colin Powell,
Bill Russell,
Albie Sachs,
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,
Elie Wiesel,
Oprah Winfrey
and Andrew Young

Coretta Scott King can also be seen and heard in our Podcast Center

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Coretta Scott King in the Achievement Curriculum area:
The Road to Civil Rights

Coretta Scott King also appears in the videos:
Challenges for the 21st Century
Heroes and the American Dream

Related Links:
The King Center
King Encyclopedia

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Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King
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Coretta Scott King Interview (page: 3 / 4)

Pioneer of Civil Rights

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  Coretta Scott King

There were threats on your husband's life, your life and your family. When did you realize that you would be dedicating your life to this movement?

Coretta Scott King: I realized when Montgomery started that this was probably the reason we were called to Montgomery. After my house was bombed, and of course, all the threats on my husband's life, on my life too. I realized I could have been killed as well -- because I was in the house when the bomb hit the front porch -- with my young baby. And the callers had been calling, and they said that they were going to bomb our house, told my husband they were going to bomb his house and kill his family if he didn't leave town in three days. And of course he didn't leave town in three days, and they did bomb the house. So knowing that they meant what they said, because they actually did bomb the house -- the bomb was not strong enough to destroy the house, but if it had been, then that would have been very, very sad for all of us, certainly for me and my baby and my husband. But the fact is that I had to deal with the fact that if I continued in the struggle, I too could be killed, and that's when I started praying very seriously about my commitment and whether or not I would be able to stick with my husband to continue in the struggle. And of course it wasn't that difficult. It was a struggle, but I knew that we were doing the right thing. I always felt that what was happening in Montgomery was part of God's will and purpose, and we were put there to be in the forefront of that struggle, and it wasn't just a struggle relegated to Montgomery, Alabama or the South, but that it had worldwide implications. And I felt, really, a sense of fulfillment that I hadn't felt before, that this was really what I was supposed to be doing, and it was a great blessing to have discovered this, and to be doing what was God's will for your life.

[ Key to Success ] Courage

Coretta Scott King Interview Photo
Coretta Scott King Interview Photo

After we were successful in desegregating the buses in Montgomery, the nonviolent revolution we launched in Montgomery spread like a prairie fire across the Southern states. My husband led nonviolent protest campaigns against racism and segregation in cities across the South as well as in Chicago, Cleveland, and other cities in the North. During this time, I had three more children and participated in movement activities as much as possible. People asked me how was I able to do this and raise four children at the same time. I can only reply that when God calls you to a great task, he provides you with the strength to accomplish what he has called you to do. Faith and prayer, family and friends were always available when I needed them, and of course Martin and I always were there for each other. I learned that when you are willing to make sacrifices for a great cause, you will never be alone, because you will have divine companionship and the support of good people. This same faith and cosmic companionship sustained me after my husband was assassinated, and gave me the strength to make my contribution to carrying forward his unfinished work.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

What inspired you? What kept you going?

Coretta Scott King: Well, it was the belief that we were doing the right thing. Because it had never happened before it was like, you know, the Supreme Court decision had been rendered in 1954 and this was in 1955 and we were all motivated by that and knowing that this meant the beginning of breaking down the system of segregation. We recognized that if the schools could desegregate this means that other things can desegregate as well so with Montgomery happening it was like an intervention there that God had planted Rosa Parks and also Martin Luther King, Jr. And so you had the sense that something very, very significant was happening and that it had -- it would have impact beyond -- around the world that we were not only struggling to free the people of the south but oppressed people around the world. And we had no idea where it was leading but we had a sense that it was leading to something much more significant than what we were involved in at the time. And each time there was things -- for instance, the stabbing incident when Martin was stabbed in Harlem. I mean, it's like it made no sense except that God was preparing us for something even bigger. And then when the Nobel Peace Prize came along, which we were rewarded in a sense for our struggles, it was like but this is still not it, because we have not achieved the peace that he was awarded -- the award represented, but we still have a long way to go. So it was always not knowing what the future held, but we knew that we were on the right path and you had a sense of, as Martin used to say, "cosmic companionship," and that kept you going.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

Coretta Scott King Interview Photo
Coretta Scott King Interview Photo

Someone else in your position might have felt that she had given enough, or sacrificed too much, and that someeone else could carry the burden for a while. Why didn't you feel that way?

Coretta Scott King: When I say I was married to the cause, I was married to my husband whom I loved -- I learned to love, it wasn't love at first sight -- but I also became married to the cause. It was my cause, and that's the way I felt about it. So when my husband was no longer there, then I could continue in that cause, and I prayed that God would give me the direction for my life, to give me the strength to do what it was, and the ability to do what it was that he had called me to do. And I was trying to seek, 'What is it that I'm supposed to do, now that Martin is no longer here?" And I finally determined that it was to develop an institution. I was already involved in building the institution, but I wasn't sure that that was it. I thought maybe it might have been with women, but then, of course, I didn't get that feeling in particular, but always, because I felt there was a need to have more women involved, in organizing them as a support group to my husband, and I encouraged them to do that. And he didn't do that in particular, and I thought, well maybe then, that might be what I'm supposed to do. But then I finally determined that it was the King Center, because Martin's message and his meaning were so powerful, and his spirit I felt needed to be continued. I know that people's spirits live on, but I think in a very positive, meaningful way, that young people would know that that influence was being continued. So I felt that my role, then, was to develop an institution, to institutionalize his philosophy, his principles of nonviolence and his methodology of social change, and that's what I have spent my years doing.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

For 27 years, I was the president, founder, CEO -- I'm still a founder; you're always the founder -- but I retired from that position in 1995, and my son Dexter is now in that position, but I still continue to do all the work that I can, to reach as many people as I can with the message.

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This page last revised on Dec 10, 2013 00:59 EDT
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