• Erik Fogel

This Day in Speech & Debate History! Happy Birthday to Coretta Scott King!


Happy Birthday to Coretta Scott King! (April 27th, 1072 - January 30th, 2006). Most probably learn of her because she was the wife of Martin Luther King Jr. But she was an author, singer, activist, civil rights leader, LGBTQ advocate, Women's Rights activist, anti-war protester (and arrested while doing so), wife to Martin Luther King Jr. and the list goes on and on and on!


When her husband was assassinated, she took over leadership for the struggle for racial equality and also became very active in the Women’s Movement. In fact, in 1866 in New Lady Magazine, she openly challenged the sexism of the Civil Rights Movement. "If American women would increase their voting turnout by 10 percent, I think we would see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children."- Coretta Scott King. In January 1968 she participated in the Women’s Strike for Peace in Washington DC with over five thousand women. She also co-chaired the Congress of Women conference.


King founded the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change to continue her husband’s work. She successfully lobbied to make his birthday a national holiday. President Reagan signed this legislation on November 2nd, 1983.


King also fought for the rights of LGBTQ. "Homophobia is like racism...it seeks to dehumanize a group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood." - Coretta Scott King.


She also fought against South Africa’s system of apartheid. In fact, on June 26, 1985, King was arrested with her daughter Bernice and son Martin Luther King III while taking part in an anti-apartheid protest at the Embassy of South Africa in Washington, D.C. King was very active in the protest against the Vietnam War and later protested the war with Iraq. On her birthday in 1968, just a few shorts weeks after her husband was assassinated, King gave her famous"Ten Commandments on Vietnam" speech.


King expanded the scope of violence to include the oppression of individual rights as well. "I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Suppressing a culture is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence." - Coretta Scott King


"Struggle is a never ending process."- Coretta Scott King

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