Coretta Scott King (April 27, 1927 – January 30, 2006) was an American
, civil rights
leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr.
from 1953 until his death in 1968. Coretta Scott King helped lead the Civil Rights Movement
in the 1960s. King was an active advocate for African-American equality. King met her husband while in college, and their participation escalated until they became central to the movement. In her early life, Coretta was an accomplished singer, and she often incorporated music into her civil rights work.
King played a prominent role in the years after her husband's 1968 assassination when she took on the leadership of the struggle for racial equality herself and became active in the Women's Movement
. King founded the King Center
and sought to make his birthday a national holiday. King finally succeeded when Ronald Reagan
signed legislation which established Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
. She later broadened her scope to include both opposition to apartheid
and advocacy for LGBT rights. King became friends with many politicians before and after Martin Luther King's death, most notably John F. Kennedy
, Lyndon B. Johnson
, and Robert F. Kennedy
. John F. Kennedy's phone call to her during the 1960 election
was what she liked to believe was behind his victory.
In August 2005, King suffered a stroke which paralyzed her right side and left her unable to speak; five months later she died of respiratory failure due to complications from ovarian cancer. Her funeral was attended by some 10,000 people, including four of five living US presidents. She was temporarily buried on the grounds of the King Center until being interred next to her husband. She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame
and was the first African-American to lie in State in the Georgia State Capitol. King has been referred to as "First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement".
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