Meeks Mourns Loss of Coretta Scott King

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The death of Coretta Scott King is a sad loss for our nation and concerned people around the world who are passionate about justice and equality.  The widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. passed away quietly in her sleep at the age of 78.  The loss of Mrs. King coming on the heels of the passing of Rosa Parks, Constance Baker Motley and C. Delores Tucker is especially tragic at this time when our nation struggles to maintain the progress and promise of the Civil Rights Movement to which they dedicated their lives. 

Although Mrs. King was perhaps best known as the wife of Dr. King, she was an activist and leader in her own right. In fact, she has said that when she married Martin Luther King Jr. she married the man as much as the cause. She spent her life acting on her commitment to equality under the law.  As a child and teenager growing up in rural Alabama, she knew hard times and hard work.  As a college student and gifted pianist, she knew how to compete with the best.  As a wife, mother, and civil rights activist, she knew how to resist and persevere.  Her composure and dignity in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assassination helped a shocked and grieving nation through those difficult days.

In the years and decades that followed, Mrs. King who shared her husband with the world continued to pursue his dream of a country in which his children and indeed all children would be known by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Mrs. King understood, probably more deeply than most of us, the value of non-violence.

While grieving the loss of her husband she stood in the face of physical intimidation and tragic loss and continued to march. Just days after Dr. King’s murder, Mrs. King returned to Memphis, the city in which he was assassinated, to join a peaceful march of striking sanitation workers.  Mrs. King would go on to establish the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change.  She continued to identify with the struggles of the oppressed here and abroad and advocate for civil rights and voting rights.  She never stopped pushing for world peace, and building coalitions for social justice. 

We will miss the dignity, grace and strength of her presence.  We must all consider how we will honor her life even as we mourn her death.  I intend to uphold the legacy of Coretta Scott King in the only meaningful way that I know how, by reaffirming my commitment to the struggle for justice, equality and opportunity in the global community.

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