Coretta Scott King

One of the most celebrated champions of human and civil rights, Coretta Scott King, in partnership with her husband, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ignited democracy movements worldwide.

King received her B.A. in music from Antioch College in Ohio and went on to study concert singing at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music, where she earned a degree in voice and violin.  It was also while in Boston that Coretta met her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Together, the Kings devoted their lives to social change.  As a leading participant in the American Civil Rights Movement, King recognized the importance of women to that movement.  She implored, “Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.”

After her husband’s assassination in 1968, King devoted time and energy to developing social programs and building the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change as a living memorial to her husband’s life and dream.  In 1969, she became the Founding President, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of The King Center.

In 1974, she formed and co-chaired the National Committee for Full Employment.  She also formed the Coalition of Conscience (1983), and co-convened the Soviet-American Women’s Summit (1990).

For over forty years, King traveled throughout the world speaking out on behalf of racial and economic justice, women’s and children’s rights, gay and lesbian dignity, religious freedom, the needs of the poor and homeless, full employment, and nuclear disarmament.

King lent her support to emerging democracies worldwide and consulted with leaders around the world, including Corazon Aquino and Nelson Mandela.  In 1985, King and three of her children were arrested at the South African Embassy in Washington, DC for protesting against apartheid.

King received over 60 honorary doctorates and served on and helped found dozens of organizations including the Black Leadership Forum and the Black Leadership Roundtable.

King’s legacy of peace, justice and social action resonates today.

Year Honored: 2011
Birth: 1927 - 2006
Born In: Alabama
Achievements: Humanities
Worked In: Alabama, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, England, Ghana, Greece, India, Switzerland
Educated In: Alabama, Massachusetts, Ohio
Schools Attended: Antioch College, Lincoln High School, New England Conservatory of Music