Monday, February 17, 2014


I know I'm a bit late for Valentine's day with this reblog, but this is still appropriate for black history month.



More than a dreamer. More than a silent wife. They were two people who fell in love, courted (yeah I said courted, it works so I hear), got married, began a family and started a revolution.

Coretta Scott was born and raised in Marion, AL (a homegirl!) and received a B.A. in music and education from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She then went on to study concert singing at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music, where she was introduced to an elegant and articulate young man named Martin. He was then studying for his doctorate in systematic theology at Boston University, where he embraced the teachings of Gandhi and the principles of nonviolence - an idea that was, at that time, unheard of as an philosophical concept. On recalling her first thoughts of him, Mrs. King recounted in Parting the Waters, by Taylor Branch that Dr. King was “very much in the market for a wife, and called her after getting her name from a friend and announced in his first phone call to her: “You know every Napoleon has his Waterloo,” he said. “I’m like Napoleon. I’m at my Waterloo, and I’m on my knees.” Ms. Scott, two years his elder, replied: “That’s absurd. You don’t even know me.” Still, she agreed to meet for lunch the next day, only to be put off initially that he was not taller (I feel her; I don’t do short either; everyone has a preference). She agreed to go out with him nonetheless. He said, "I'll come over and pick you up. I have a green Chevy that usually takes ten minutes to make the trip from B.U., but tomorrow I'll do it in seven (swag).” He stated that he enjoyed her conversation, about music, racial and economic injustice and peace. And reportedly after an hour, his mind was made up, "So you can do something else besides sing? You've got a good mind also. You have everything I ever wanted in a woman. We ought to get married someday." Although she found him somewhat cocky, she was impressed by his sophistication and letters filled with poetry –,“My life without you is like a year without a spring time which comes to give illumination and heat to the atmosphere saturated by the dark cold breeze of winter. . . . O excuse me, my darling. I didn't mean to go off on such a poetical and romantic flight. But how else can we express the deep emotions of life other than in poetry? Isn't love too ineffable to be grasped by the cold calculating hands of intellect?” That was July 18, 1952. Hot.

They were married on June 18, 1953, and in September 1954 they were living in Montgomery. Newlywed Coretta Scott King began making a home and assuming the many functions of pastor’s wife at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church (from The King Center website). Even before the wedding however, she had made it very clear to her intended that she would continue to be her own woman. “She stunned Dr. King’s father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., who presided over the wedding, by demanding that the promise to obey her husband be removed from the wedding vows. Reluctantly, he went along. After it was over, the bridegroom fell asleep in the car on the way back to Atlanta while the new Mrs. King did the driving” (from The New York Times). Dr. King however, wrote Michael Dyson, felt very different about their roles in marriage: "King was in constant conflict with his wife about her role. She wanted to become much more involved in the movement; he wanted her to stay home and raise their children" (from his book I May Not Get There With You). Mrs. King stated about her role as wife to the civil rights crusader, “I had no problem being the wife of Martin, but I was never just a wife. In the 1950s, as a concert singer, I performed ‘freedom concerts’ raising funds for the movement. I ran my household, raised my children, and spoke out on world issues. Maybe people didn’t know that I was always an activist because the media wasn’t watching. I once told Martin that although I loved being his wife and a mother, if that was all I did I would have gone crazy. I felt a calling on my life from an early age. I knew I had something to contribute to the world” (from The Washington Post).

Like modern couples, but at a level that most couples could not withstand, Martin and Corrie were separated for most of their marriage due to the motion of the movement and need to be everywhere that a new issue arose. Dr. King wrote of his beloved, “My devoted wife has been a constant source of consolation to me through all the difficulties. In the midst of the most tragic experiences, she never became panicky or overemotional. I have come to see the real meaning of that rather trite statement: a wife can either make or break a husband. My wife was always stronger than I was through the struggle. While she had certain natural fears and anxieties concerning my welfare, she never allowed them to hamper my active participation in the movement. Corrie proved to be that type of wife with qualities to make a husband when he could have been so easily broken. In the darkest moments, she always brought the light of hope.” He wrote her constantly while on the road and they apparently kept the home fires burning, resulting in four beautiful children, Martin Luther III, Dexter Scott, Yolanda Denise, and Bernice Albertine.

securedownload-1Despite the FBI’s so-called proof and the rants of perhaps the worst best friend ever, Reverend Ralph Abernathy writing that Dr. King had numerous adulterous affairs, Mrs. King stated that she and Martin "never had one single serious discussion about either of us being involved with another person” (I May Not Get There With You, by Michael Dyson). She remained steadfast in her love and devotion to her husband and in his autobiography wrote, “I am indebted to my wife Coretta, without whose love, sacrifices, and loyalty neither life nor work would bring fulfillment. She has given me words of consolation when I needed them and a well-ordered home where Christian love is a reality." And these are the things that for me are the hallmarks of real love: devotion, respect, understanding and reliability. I believe that he knew that he could always count on his Corrie to be there and that she knew that no matter where he was or what he was doing her Martin was always coming home to the family that he loved.

When Dr. King was assassinated outside a motel room in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968, Mrs. King channeled her grief and love for her husband into action and few days later led a march through the streets of Memphis (from ABC News). That love also propelled her forward to carry on his legacy and to honor his life by having a national holiday in named in his honor and to build a nationally recognized center in Atlanta that would serve as a research center for scholars studying his work and the civil rights era. Love is defined as “a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.” How fitting that today, Valentine’s Day, we recognize the love of two who shared that deep, tender, ineffable feeling of oneness with all of humankind; so I ask you Blackberry Preserve family, in all sincerity, who are you loving today? ….