King Center At 50 Salute to The “Life, Love and Legacy” of Mrs. Coretta Scott King at Women’s Luncheon
By Diane Larche‘
The Rev. Dr. Bernice King said yesterday on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolence Social Change also known as The King Center, that much has been written and celebrated about the achievements of her father the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., however the work of her the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King who worked by her husband’s side and behind the scenes, as well as continued long after his passing has never received the attention that it so justly deserves.
It was the daughter of the two larger than life late civil rights icons yesterday, who shined the spotlight on her mother who founded the King Center in 1968. The King center draws nearly a million people each year who travel from across the globe to stop and pay respect to Dr. King’s legacy.
Kelisha Graves, a young scholar who has spent 13 years researching Mrs. King’s life spoke yesterday at a luncheon in
a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the King Center and honoring the”Life, Love and Legacy” of Coretta Scott King,
talked about how at 15 years old she saw a television show and knew she wanted to find out more about the civil rights
woman. Ms. Graves is working on a scholarly book about Mrs. King’s life.
Coretta Scott King was one of the most influential leaders in the world. She was born and raised in Marion Alabama and she graduated valedictorian from Lincoln High School going on to receive a B.A. in music and education from Antioch College in Yellow Springs Ohio. She studied concert singing at Boston’s New England Conservatory of music and earned a degree in voice and violin. She met MLK Jr. in Boston where he was studying for his doctorate in systematic theology at Boston University.
They married on June 18, 1953, and moved to Montgomery Alabama the next year where he became pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and she the first lady.
Mrs. King spearheaded the effort to make the MLK Jr. a Federal Holiday. In 1983 it passed Congress and in 1986 the first legal holiday honoring Dr. King was recognized and celebrated.
Mrs. King was a life-long advocate of interracial coalitions and in 1983 brought together more than 800 human rights organization to form the Coalition of Conscience.
Mrs. King passed away in 2006. She and Dr. King are interred in a memorial crypt in the reflecting poof of the King Center’s Freedom Hall Complex.
Other guests at the luncheon were Mrs. Christine King Farris, sister of MLK Jr.; Hala Moddelmog, CEO of the Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce; Leona Barr-Davenport, CEO of the Atlanta Business League; Sherry Frank; Ingrid Saunders Jones, National President and Chair of the National Council of Negro Women; Elder Deleice Drane, assistant to Dr. Bernice King; Patricia Latimore, former personal assistant to Mrs. King and Paulette Lewis, former chief of staff for Mrs. King. Mistress of Ceremony was WGCL TV Anchor/Reporter Karyn Greer.