The Woman Behind the Movement: Honoring Coretta Scott-King

By DaiJhah Owens

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.”- Coretta Scott-King

I’m going to let y’all finish celebrating MLK Day (as you should be) but Coretta Scott-King deserves her own day! After all, she is literally the reason we celebrate Martin Luther King Day. If not for her tireless advocacy, Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy would not have been recognized as a national holiday. Although best known as being the wife of Dr. King, she carved out her own place in history that deserves to be honored. Mrs. King was giving free game to black women and left behind a blue print on thriving in a patriarchal and racist society.

maxresdefaultRarely do we hear her name celebrated. Rarely do we hear her name at all. In spite of this, I personally view Mrs. King as one of the most important figures of the civil rights movement. She was intelligent, talented, creative, brave, and independent. The Civil Rights movement would not have the legacy today if not for the sacrifices made by Mrs. King. She supported the Civil Rights Movement while also boldly criticizing its leaders, including her husband, for the lack of female leaders, even though black women were on the front lines, right next to the men! When her husband was assassinated, she did not let it stop her fight against injustice. She advocated for labor rights and women’s rights. Most notably, she fiercely spoke out against the Vietnam War, which landed her under the FBI’s surveillance for years. However, this did not scare her, as she had become accustomed to white supremacist aggression. She went on to found The King Center. This center was created to protect and remember her husband’s legacy, and continue the fight for equality.

Mrs. King understood the power she held as a black woman and she wielded it with grace. She understood that black women had the unique ability to be poised in the face of danger. Strong in the face of Adversity. Soft and nurturing when needed. And could Set-it off when required. She understood the fight that black women face, to be seen as fully human despite our race and gender. Dr. King also understood the power of the black woman. He knew full well, that if something was to happen to him, he need not worry if the fight would continue. He knew that his wife, his partner, would continue applying pressure. That is just what Mrs. King did!


This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I not only want us to honor Dr. King’s legacy but to also say the name of the woman that made it possible, Mrs. Coretta Scott-King.  

Work Cited

Norwood, Arlisha. “Coretta Scott King.” National Women’s History Museum. National Women’s History Museum, 2017. 01/13/2020.

DaiJhah Owens is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. DaiJhah is passionate about shifting political power to oppressed groups through education. She believes there is nothing more powerful than an educated black woman who can smell political BS a mile away! Connect with her on Instagram at @d_nakhole!

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