Coretta Scott King Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Coretta Scott King emerged as an African American national leader following the assassination of her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. She founded the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, which includes memorials to her husband’s work but also acts as a center for studies by scholars and students committed to social change. She was a member of and leader in international peace groups and African American organizations in the United States, where she was consulted by American politicians and by civil rights activists. King received more than one hundred honorary degrees for her work toward establishing social justice in the United States and other countries.

Coretta Scott King was born to Obie and Bernice Scott, who encouraged their three children to excel; her younger brother became a Methodist minister, and her sister was the first full-time African American student to live on the campus of Antioch College in Ohio. King’s secondary education was at the private Lincoln School in Alabama, where she specialized in piano and voice training and graduated first in her class. She received a scholarship to study at Antioch College and majored in both music and education; later she chose to emphasize music rather than education as a career. She was accepted by the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston with a fellowship and began giving voice recitals.

Coretta Scott met Martin Luther King, Jr., in Boston, where King was completing graduate work in philosophy at Boston University. They realized their life goals were similar, especially in their commitments toward social change for African Americans and other disfranchised groups. In her autobiography, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., King emphasizes their shared purpose and agreement on nonviolent ways to bring about social change. On June 18, 1953, they were married in a ceremony presided over by King’s...

(The entire section is 793 words.)