For many Americans, Coretta Scott King represented a dream. It was a dream first voiced in full flower by her husband, the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which resonated throughout society following his 1968 assassination.
Mrs. King, often referred to as the first lady of the civil rights movement, continued her husband's legacy and struggled to try to bring together all people, regardless of background. Now that she has joined her husband in death, at the age of 78, Mrs. King's legacy should also resonate.
She gave life to the idea that people of all colors, especially African-Americans, be given an opportunity to live the American dream. At the time, they were denied civil liberties many Americans today take for granted. As Dr. King said in his famous speech, ". . . that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.' "
The civil rights movement in the 1960s gave rise to civil liberties and paved the way for all Americans to live in a better world. Sacrifices were made by blacks and whites, Christians and Jews, men and women, some of whom gave their lives to the civil rights cause.
After her husband's assassination in Memphis on April 4, 1968, Mrs. King was left with four children. She picked up the mantle and boldly carried on, later symbolizing for many African-Americans a period in history that changed their lives and their children's and grandchildren's lives.
She founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta to keep her husband's dream a living one. Unfortunately, the center has been a source of ill will among her children since she stepped down in 1994.
Mrs. King continued carrying the message of freedom. She was born into poverty and found herself thrust into the very heart of one of the most important movements in American history. As former U.N. ambassador and family friend Andrew Young said, "She was a woman born to struggle, and she has struggled and she has overcome."