Coretta Scott King - Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)

Coretta Scott King

Born and raised in segregated Alabama, Coretta Scott King (1927-2006) defied society’s constraints to become the first lady of the American civil rights movement. She graduated as valedictorian of her high school and won a scholarship to Antioch College, where she studied music and joined the NAACP. While continuing her studies in Boston, she met another doctoral student, Martin Luther King, Jr., who was two years her junior. He pursued her immediately, yet she was initially uninterested—and particularly put off by the fact he was not taller. Martin won her over with his confidence and intelligence, and the two married a year later. Their partnership was one of true equals from the start—she insisted that his father, who married them, remove the promise to obey her husband from the wedding vows. Together, they led the civil rights revolution, starting with the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. They traveled internationally in support of nonviolent social change, including visiting Ghana in 1957 and making a pilgrimage to India in 1959. Coretta created her own events, hosting over thirty fundraising Freedom Concerts, and became an in-demand speaker. She was the first woman to deliver the Class Day address at Harvard and the first woman to preach at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. King also served as the delegate for the Women’s Strike for Peace Conference in Geneva. After her husband was assassinated, she continued to work in the movement; before his body was even laid to rest, she took his place as leader of the march on Memphis. Eventually, she founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta and campaigned for fifteen years to have his birthday honored as a national holiday. King remained active in social justice causes for the rest of her life, working for all human rights.

First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement