02/01/06 — Her own legacy: Coretta Scott King’s courage helped keep the dream alive

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Her own legacy: Coretta Scott King’s courage helped keep the dream alive

Coretta Scott King did much of what a wife should do. She supported her husband, stood by his side and raised a family while he spoke around the nation of justice and equality for all races.

She was always in the background, an important contributor and a fervent believer, a source of strength for her family and an activist along with those who were part of the fight for civil rights.

And then, later, after civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, she made sure his message continued to resonate, by helping establish a memorial to honor his work and by continuing to speak of the equality he dreamed of for generations of Americans.

Now, decades after the day this nation lost Dr. King, Mrs. King has left a legacy of her own. She has continued to petition her government’s leaders to better serve the needs of Americans of all races, and challenged all of us to think about each other as people. She has championed the cause of justice, and has pushed this country to have a conscience, even when it would have been much easier to ignore the problem.

Mrs. King has taken her husband’s teachings and brought them to the people he meant to hear them, and has held politicians of all parties accountable for the decisions they make that affect the people they serve.

She has been a voice for the poor as well as those of all races. She has challenged us all to live better lives.

It was almost like we never lost her husband. She has carried his mantle forward, even though he could not — and she has done him proud.

Her loss this week to cancer is an enormous one. Mrs. King has become the symbol of not only her husband’s work, but of our nation’s attempts to overcome the differences that can sometimes divide us. She has encouraged us to think of ourselves as Americans, first, and brothers and sisters always.

There will be others to carry the torch now. They will continue the work Dr. and Mrs. King began so many years ago.

They would do well to remember the power that lies in the courage of conviction and the determination that right almost always wins in the end.

There will always be injustice and hatred in the world. There is no way to stop either.

But sometimes all it takes to fight both is a single voice that brings a message of love and brotherhood.

That is the legacy that Dr. King left for his wife — and that is the message she carried to the world.

Now, it is our turn.

Published in Editorials on February 1, 2006 9:58 AM