2006/02/07

Coretta Scott King

In Honor of Coretta Scott King - April 27, 1927 to January 31, 2006.

I will never forget, as a child of 13 years of age, going through my neighborhood with a friend collecting signatures on a petition which the two of us had written ourselves asking that the Congress of the United States pass a civil rights bill to guarantee the equal protection of the rights of all Americans, black or white - to vote, to use the same public facilities, to go about their lives in peace. Nor will I forget the faces and reactions of the people in the predominantly white, upper middle class neighborhood in which I was raised. Some smiling and welcoming, others frowning and shocked that two young men would be so politically active or perhaps at the very issue.

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My parents had taught me well of the principles on which the United States of America was founded. Freedom, individualism, equality. Yet, I think they too were a bit surprised (putting it mildly) that I had taken their lessons literally and taken action, especially with regard to black people. Well, that was life in America in the early 60's. The legislation we requested in the petition was in fact passed a couple of years later.

Coretta Scott King may have been a person in the background while her husband, Martin, was still alive. But immediately after his assassination, she picked up his torch and carried on. Sadly, their vision has never been realized in America. I wonder if it ever can be. The flaw in the founding of America, as predicted by Thomas Paine, the legacy of slavery - racism and violence - will take a long time to resolve.

As to her life, I will let Mrs. King's words speak to us of its meaning:

"When I say I was married to the cause, I was married to my husband whom I loved -- I learned to love, it wasn't love at first sight -- but I also became married to the cause. It was my cause, and that's the way I felt about it. So when my husband was no longer there, then I could continue in that cause, and I prayed that God would give me the direction for my life....But then I finally determined that it was the King Center, because Martin's message and his meaning were so powerful....So I felt that my role, then, was to develop an institution, to institutionalize his philosophy, his principles of nonviolence and his methodology of social change, and that's what I have spent my years doing."

8 comments:

Don Snabulus said...

Although the Kings' example is being put through it's paces, it is still a template for doing the right thing that will serve us into the future.

Let us hope for the day when 13 year olds and grown ups alike hold some small influence with their Congresspeople rather than getting a form letter while they pursue corporate graft. Representation is taking as big a beating as civil rights nowadays.

@ロウ 。LOW@ said...

Wonderful post!

Sometime I wonder how many of those principles that we learn will eventually turn into real actions? People around us tend to make things (unjust, unfair, etc.) seemed so unrelated to our life. Not until someone step on our tail.

You had indeed lead a good example, my friend! Thanks for sharing that experience!

FH2O said...

Too few people live a life of courage and conviction. We need more of such people. But we can play our part too. Thanks for reminding us.

Omni said...

Thank you for sharing your memories; the Kings will continue to live on as long as people fight for what they stood for.

Robin said...

Living life with a purpose!

This is something we hear so much about and yet so difficult to achieve.

Yes, she certainly has succeeded

Pandabonium said...

Thank you all for your kind comments and thoughtful points. I tend to be pessimistic about the future. It is often difficult in this age to be otherwise.

But perhaps I should take a lesson from the comments on this blog and have a brighter outlook and more faith in my fellow humans.

Thanks for expressing yourselves here.

Chen said...

Thanks for sharing your experience & memories :)

Lots of time, we don't put what we learn or what we know into practice.

Pandabonium said...

Very true. Thank you as well Chen.