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Coretta Scott King Leaves Rich Legacy


As Americans say goodbye to Coretta Scott King, she is being remembered for her own brand of activism in carrying on the work of her late husband, Reverend Martin Luther King, Junior.

She was known as the first lady of the American civil rights movement.

Coretta Scott King married Martin Luther King, Junior, in 1953, and was at his side as he became a leader of the civil rights movement in the late 1950's and early 1960's, and was there when he delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech in Washington in 1963.

"I have a dream that some day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal," said Martin Luther King.

After her husband's assassination in 1968, Coretta Scott King continued his work for social justice, at home and abroad.

She had a different style from that of her late husband, considered by many one of the great orators in American history.

But in her quiet, determined way, Coretta Scott King kept alive her late husband's nonviolent struggle to overcome racism, poverty and warfare.

Ms. King also helped to spread that message around the globe, as she did in a 1995 interview with the Voice of America.

"The 'I have a dream speech', which was heard around the world at the time he gave it, was a universal appeal to the highest and noblest in what humankind can achieve," said Coretta Scott King.

In the years following her husband's death, Coretta Scott King helped to establish the Martin Luther King, Junior, Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia.

She also worked tirelessly for the establishment of the King National Holiday in January, in which Martin Luther King's legacy is celebrated by Americans of all ethnic backgrounds.

"It is about believing in something and he just led us in that direction," she said.

"There is still so much work to be done," said an observer. "I think a lot of people forget that the civil rights movement is still going on today."

Coretta Scott King left her own mark on her husband's legacy. She and three of her children were arrested at an anti-apartheid protest in Washington in 1985. She was also an activist on women's issues and in defending affirmative action programs in education and the workplace designed to help African-Americans and other minorities.

"I think that is what life is really all about," said Coretta Scott King. "It is not about just achieving our own selfish, personal goals. But it is about trying to help and uplift humankind and if you can do that, you are enriched and you will be fulfilled accordingly."

Coretta Scott King died January 30 at the age of 78, after battling ovarian cancer and the effects of a stroke.