An ever-enlarging body of literature on Martin Luther King, Jr., and the nonviolent Civil Rights movement has provided the reading public with a massive literature on civil rights history. The availability of King’s papers at the King Center in Atlanta and other libraries and archives has made possible a wide variety of coverage. Most of this has been written by nonblack scholars working within the framework of academia or journalism. Coretta King’s autobiographical account is different from much of this in three respects, and these features define the place of her work in the history of African American literature.
First, she is an African American. Her book reflects the soul-searching quest for personal identity of a young woman who, like her husband, had been forced early to learn the parameters of black Americans’ participation in society. She knew firsthand about the necessity to be the best in order to have a fair chance to enter the prestigious institutions of higher learning or to carve out a career in a society where race loomed larger as a challenge than it did after the Civil Rights movement.
Second, Coretta Scott King was the wife of a man widely regarded as the most influential African American reform leader of the post-World War II period. That was surely not an easy role. She stayed home during most of the campaigns and was thus remote from the detail. She had to keep up with what was going on, to intervene at times to...
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