Thursday, November 27, 2008

Timeless Thursday: Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King, where do I begin? I am so filled with emotions when I think of you; it is truly difficult for me to get them all out. I feel pride; so much pride it's almost overwhelming. So many things I want to say and fit in but I know that's not possible. Certainly not in this blog and definitely not in any one blog. You were so many things. You did so many things. You believed in and fought for so many things. Which ones do I highlight? Which ones do I put out? I'm almost tempted to just give up on it all. I feel as if I will not say enough, that I won't say it the way I'd like to, the way it should be said. I will do my best though, it's the least and most that I can do. Coretta Scott King was the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, she was the mother of their four kids, she was an author and she was an activist. She fought for civil rights, women's rights, GLBT rights, human rights and most of all equal rights, economic issues, world peace, HIV/AIDS prevention and against apartheid among other things. After Dr. King's assassination in 1968 took on role of leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement and carried on the work her husband started until her death on January 30, 2006 at the age of 78. In 1945 she graduated valedictorian of Lincoln High School and enrolled at Antioch College in Ohio. She later studied music with Walter Anderson and in 1954 she completed her degree in voice and violin at the New England Conservatory. One of Coretta's most noted accomplishments was the work she did to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act. She founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia in her husband's honor. She published her memoirs, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1969. And in 1986 after advocating for it since the death of her husband, she was finally successful in establishing the anniversary of her husband's death as a federal holiday.
On April 1, 1998 King called on fellow civil rights groups and activists to join the fight against homophobia and anti-gay bias. "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood", was a part of her speech to these groups. In another speech in November 2003 King made another appeal when she linked the Civil Rights Movement to the LGBT agenda, "I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people. ... But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people." On March 23, 2004 King is quoted as saying "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 marriage." She founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia and published her memoirs, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1969. Rest Coretta. Rest. Your journey was long, hard, taxing, tiring, painful and I'm sure at times unbearable. You came, you saw, you believed, you fought, you CONQUERED. My life is better because of you, the USA and the world at large is a better place because of you. I am honored, privileged, fortunate and profoundly appreciative that I shared the same time on earth (at least some of it) at the same time that you did. I never met you personally but if I had the opportunity, I would have. It would have been a great honor; an honor of a lifetime. You bore each fight, each struggle and each obstacle with such great countenance and reserve. You are an icon, a legend, a beacon and a tower of strength; these are attributes that not even death can change or take away. So it is quite fitting that I give thanks to and for you, Coretta Scott King, on this the day set aside to give thanks.