When Martin Luther King Jr. passed away in 1968, his work for justice and equality did not die.
His wife, Coretta Scott King, continued the activism that her husband began. Mrs. King died Tuesday morning, but her works and strength will surely be remembered.
King accomplished many things that paid tribute to her husband’s memory, such as the creation of the King Center in Atlanta, a place dedicated to the memory of her husband and education through King’s values, such as the use of nonviolence in order to achieve social justice.
Mrs. King is now the one to be honored and revered, just as she revered her husband after his death. She has left a legacy of her own through her strength and courage – courage that was first evidenced when she gave up her passion for singing to help spread King’s message. Faith guided her in this decision, as friend Maya Angelou remembered on Good Morning America on Tuesday, “that’s a decision that Mrs. King made with God before she made it with Martin King.”
In the face of the ultimate adversity – losing a spouse – Mrs. King could have chosen not to go on, to wallow in sadness and self-pity. Yet she continued to make great strides in public forums through marches and demonstrations. However, it was in the raising of her and Dr. King’s four children that many could see the continuance of her strength in the face of tragedy.
“When Dr. King first passed, there was sorrow and sadness, but she maintained control of her family and continued to do the work that Dr. King did,” said Crystel Dawson, president of USF’s Black Student Union.
King’s death is difficult for many to come to terms with, as her passing comes just months after the loss of Rosa Parks, another significant figure in the civil rights movement. These two women had a significant impact in the lives of many, especially members of today’s black youth.
“I view (King) and Rosa Parks as Mother Parks and Mother King because I am a black young woman and have that respect for them,” Dawson said. “The effects of their work on my life and the way that I am able to live now feels like a mother or mother figure has passed away.”
That respect and reverence that “Mother King” had been given in life will now be even greater in death, as her memory will live on through the work that she carried out and the strength and grace with which she did that work – work that will continue.
“These leaders passing away is very sad,” Dawson said, “but it motivated me. Now is the time for the younger generation to step up and continue to fight for equality in American society.”