When I listen to the admiration and joy expressed as we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., I wonder. What did his wife think? What would Coretta’s views be about the world now? If she had Whatsapp, an iPhone or a laptop…what would her messages be like?
I would ask someone to reach out to her, and get an introduction at one of her meetings. Getting there early makes the difference, select a good seat and listen attentively. She would enter the room with a wide smile, and everyone would listen enraptured. At the end, my mentor would introduce me and say something to her privately. She would encourage me to give her a call and we would meet for coffee the next week.
Dressed in my finest, I would fuss with my clothes and fluff my hair even bigger. I would take with me a classy token, a thoughtful gift like Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee or a small coin purse with hand sown shells from the Philippines. Remind myself to breathe. Tell myself to talk my heart out, that I was doing the right thing, and that I knew that I needed to speak out but I didn’t know how.
The King Center website says “Coretta Scott King was one of the most influential women leaders in our world.” She graduated High School valedictorian. I was also valedictorian so there, I had my first ice breaker. It would be a good thing to ask about their four children and how she balanced mothering and the Movement. But I wouldn’t linger on her identity as a mother or wife. My objective – Coretta the activist. I would want to talk about 1983 (not because it was the year I was born) and how she got people to mobilize their conscience.
I would tell her where I’m at in my desire for activism, how confused I am about rejection at work because of color and how saddened I am that so many remained silent. She would listen as I explained that what she’s fought for, what her husband fought for, what millions fought for, was now so subversive and still so damaging. Why? Why do I think it’s so damaging? I think it’s because so many have touted that we are victorious, that we’ve “made it” that colonization has ended. If only they knew how institutionalized racism in the international development landscape had become globalized.
http://thekingcenter.org/about-mrs-king. “About – Coretta Scott King.” Date accessed: January 21, 2019. “…as Co-Chair of both the National Committee for Full Employment and the Full Employment Action Council. In 1983, she brought together more than 800 human rights organizations to form the Coalition of Conscience, sponsors of the 20th Anniversary March on Washington, until then the largest demonstration ever held in our nation’s capital.”
http://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/coretta-scott-king. Norwood, Arlisha. “Coretta Scott King.” National Women’s History Museum. 2017. Date accessed: January 21, 2019. “King also supported several women’s right causes. She travelled internationally, lecturing about racism and economic issues in the United States and abroad. In 1969, King was awarded the Universal Love Award, becoming the first non-Italian to hold the distinction. The same year, she published her memoirs entitled My Life with Martin Luther King Jr.”