The world will never forget the face of a brave widow who held her child during her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King’s, eulogy in 1965.
There are others who can still remember her walking with her husband across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma after Bloody Sunday. And still, others who see her flanked with Stevie Wonder singing “Happy Birthday,”and calling for her husband’s birthday to be a national holiday. In honor of her advocacy for nonviolence, there were several events scheduled in D.C. from April 21 – April 29 for Coretta Scott King’s Inaugural Birthday Celebration. She would have turned 90-years-old on April 27.
Corretta Scott King (Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica)
“Coretta Scott King worked around the world teaching non-violence. She worked non-stop for 50 years to get a holiday for Dr. King, now her birthday comes unnoticed,” said journalist and author Barbara Reynolds, who organized a special tribute to commemorate her birthday.
Reynolds, who wrote a biography of King entitled My Life, My Love, My Legacy, is part of a group of people who will be celebrating the life of King.
Born on April 27, 1927, King’s life went far beyond Heiberger, Ala. where she was born and raised on her parent’s farm. She never stopped marching, speaking, and advocating for social justice as exemplified in her 1986 letter opposing now Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointment to the federal bench.
“My professional and personal roots in Alabama are deep and lasting,” King wrote on behalf of the MLK Center for Social Change in March of 1986. “Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts.
“Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly Black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”
Today, selected by President Donald Trump, Sessions is using his position as attorney general to attempt to roll back decades of Civil Rights gains. But he is being haunted by the words of King, so much so that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Okla.) was sat down in the US Senate when she read parts of Kings letters during Sessions confirmation hearing.
On April 27, a digital birthday party is scheduled in King’s honor. People from throughout the country are encouraged to change their social media profile picture to their favorite photo of King with the hashtag #HappyBirthdayMrsKing.
On April 29, a Social Justice Service is scheduled at Howard University’s Rankin Chapel where the first Coretta Scott King Eternal Flame Award will be presented. There will also be the presenting of “Coretta’s 7 Lasting Words,” during the ceremony.
Reynolds said she invited D.C. officials and Civil Rights veterans to attend the service. A book signing is scheduled to follow the service with proceeds slated to benefit the A Teacher’s Work Is Never Done (ATWINDS) Foundation.
King was tireless as an advocate for social justice. She never stopped marching whether it was crossing the Alabama River in Selma or speaking at the United Nations. “Coretta Scott King was a woman of tall dignity and grace,” Linda Boyd, a longtime spokesman for three D.C. mayors who worked closely with the King family, told the AFRO. “She had towering strength in the face challenges and adversity. She left a legacy for all of us to live by when ever the King family came to Washington.”
Boyd reflected on a time when Coretta attended a luncheon sponsored by the National Political Congress of Black Women where she, Betty Shabazz, Mamie Till, and Rosa Parks were honored. “These widows of the movement will never be forgotten, their legacy will live forever,” Boyd said. “Coretta was the wind beneath her husband’s movement.”