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2 February 2006 Edition

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Civil Rights veteran Coretta Scott King dies

Civil Rights veteran Coretta Scott King dies

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has expressed his regret at the death of Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King who died On Tuesday 31 January, in Atlanta.

"Coretta Scott King was a dedicated champion of civil rights for over 40 years," Adams said. "She was part of a movement, along with her late husband, that inspired civil rights activists across the world including here in Ireland.

"After her husband's death she carried on the campaign for equality and justice right up until her passing earlier today in Atlanta. Our sympathies are with her family and many friends at this time."

Coretta Scott was born in Heiberger, Alabama, in 1927. She broke the mould of her sex and her colour, by attending Antioch college and as an undergraduate, took an active interest in the emerging Civil Rights Movement. Graduating from college, she won a scholarship to study concert singing in Boston, Massachusetts. There she met a young theology student, Martin Luther King, Jr. They were married in 1953 and moved to Montgomery, Alabama.

It was shortly afterwards that Rosa Parks refused to yield her seat on a Montgomery City bus to a white passenger and was arrested. Coretta joined her husband in organising a boycott of the city's buses, drawing the attention of the world to the continued injustice of segregation in the United States.

In 1956, white supremacists bombed the King family home in Montgomery. Coretta and the couple's first child narrowly escaped injury.

Coretta retired from singing to raise her family of four but found another way to use her musical background, by conceiving and performing a series of critically acclaimed Freedom Concerts.

In the 1960s Coretta found herself in increasing demand as a public speaker. She became the first woman to deliver the Class Day address at Harvard and served as a Women's 'Strike for Peace' delegate to the 17-nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, Switzerland in 1962.

On 4 April, 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Channelling her grief, Coretta concentrated her energies on fulfiling her husband's work by building The Martin Luther King, Jr Centre as a living memorial to her husband.

She then led a successful campaign to establish Dr. King's birthday, 15 January, as a national holiday in the United States.

In 1985 Coretta and three of her children were arrested at the South African Embassy in Washington, DC, for protesting against that country's Apartheid system. Ten years later, she stood with Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg when he was sworn in as President of South Africa.

She was active in promoting peace and tolerance throughout the world, up until her death at the age of 78.

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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