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

Pioneer of Civil Rights

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  Coretta Scott King

How do you see your work now? What challenges do you see for humanity in the new century?

Coretta Scott King: I think what I've tried to do is to empower people to understand that they can make a difference. And by using the method of nonviolence as a way of life, it becomes internalized into your life; so everything that you seek to do, you use those principles and those steps, based on those principles, and the steps and methodologies, so that if you have a problem or a conflict in whatever it is you are doing, you are able to better resolve that. And if it is dealing with people, certainly you'll know how to resolve that and become reconciled and to move forward.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

Coretta Scott King Interview Photo
Today we have so many problems. Some of them are new problems. You have the human rights struggle continuing, but you also have problems like HIV and AIDS. I think young people have to be dedicated to find ways to deal with these problems, to educate the whole world, because the world as a whole needs to be educated. We have a lot of education that needs to be done here in this country so that people can avoid getting the disease. We know that people can live with the disease, but there is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done there. There are other problems that we are fighting now. Violence is so pervasive. People have access to guns, and so many people are being killed. I've done a lot of work with the handgun control organization -- it's called the Brady Organization now -- with Sarah and Jim Brady.

Coretta Scott King: I think that nonviolence allows you and empowers you to do what is necessary, because what you do is build coalitions. You can't do all of it by yourself, but you can put together a coalition and get other people involved, or join organizations that are already involved and continue to work to eradicate poverty, of course, since poverty is still with us, very much so. My husband -- it was one of the triple evils that he talked about -- poverty, racism and war. And of course, they all are forms of violence, and we have to continue to work to make sure that people everywhere have a decent livelihood, that they have jobs, they have housing, they have health care, they have quality education. All of these areas that we still have to work on and to improve, so that the quality of life for all people is improved, and we can achieve indeed the "beloved community" that Martin talked about, that I believe in.

[ Key to Success ] The American Dream

Did your belief in nonviolence ever waver? It was tested time after time after time. Did you ever think that maybe nonviolence was not the way to go?

Coretta Scott King: No, I really -- I never thought that it wasn't the way to go. I always -- I guess because of my religious upbringing and, you know, I believed that even though we kind of stray away from it but you know what is right. I mean that you've been taught it was wrong to kill. I believe that firmly. I believe that you have to try to resolve your conflicts without violence. I believe that you have to give something back to society that has nurtured you and so I never got to the point where I felt that nonviolence was not viable. I just felt that when there was violence and it came from within, and very seldom violence did come from within, I realized that it wasn't that it wouldn't work, it's that people didn't follow the proper steps in trying to achieve it because there are a set of principles and there are a set of steps in the methodology that we were taught about nonviolence. And when we follow those they work. It may take a while but in order to have a peaceful solution and a lasting peace it has to be a nonviolent approach.

If one of these young people came to you and asked you for advice about how they should live their lives or how they can achieve what they hope to achieve, what would you say to them? What would be your advice to young people today?

Coretta Scott King: Well, certainly you have to get the best possible education and training that's available and you have to decide that you need to learn as much about the world and society. And these young people live in a global village really.

Everybody lives in a global village and a global community. I didn't know at the time. I didn't live in a global community, but I had a vision that I would be living in a global village. I knew I had to be prepared to be comfortable anywhere in the world. That was what my goal was. So these young people are being prepared differently than I was because they live in a different time but the most important thing they have to decide is not just to get an education and to be selfish about it but that they must prepare themselves to give back and to make a difference in the world. We have to create what my husband called "The Beloved Community." If we are to survive we have to learn how to solve our problems and resolve our conflicts in a nonviolent manner. And so I think it's important for them to realize that they have a personal responsibility, each one of them.

Looking to the future, what must be a priority for the next generation in order to foster a society of non-violence and acceptance?

When I sat in the audience today and I thought about these young people who had gathered and I thought about how this all came together, I just wish that there were more gatherings such as what we have experienced here the weekend at the International Achievement Summit because if we are going to continue to change society for the better and if our world is to survive, we have got to invest in these young people in a way so that they know which is the best way and the right way. And I think the Academy is doing a great job.

Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Mrs. King.

Coretta Scott King: Thank you.

(Mrs. King closed her address to the Academy at the National Cathedral with the following words.)

On March 31st, 1968, just four days before Martin was assassinated, he delivered his last sermon, entitled "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," right here in this cathedral. In the sermon, Martin inspired us with his unshakable faith in the triumph of good over evil, and he said, "With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair the stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discord of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood." And so today, I want to challenge you to make a courageous commitment, not only to achieve personal success, but to use your success to help create this beautiful symphony of brotherhood and sisterhood, and if you embrace this challenge with prayer and faith and determination, you will surely succeed, and the 21st Century will become a glorious new age of peace and progress for all humankind. May God bless you all and give you the strength to fulfill your dreams. Thank you.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

View Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, "I Have a Dream" speech on the
steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963.

Poet and best-selling author Maya Angelou shares her
interpretation of Dr. King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech.

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