Posts Tagged ‘Coretta Scott King’



Coretta Scott King, most famously known due to her husband, Martin Luther King Jr., was a civil rights activist during their marriage and after his assassination. She helped the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, was involved in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. After her husband’s death she extended the civil rights movement, the focus moved from solely racial equality to women’s rights, economic equality and rights for the LGBT community

Rosa Parks, “the first lady of civil rights”, refused to vacate her seat for a white man, on a Montgomery bus in December 1955. This action sparked a year long bus boycott which resulted in the city of Montgomery repealing their law of racial segregation on public buses, due to it being deemed un-constitutional.

Both women undoubtedly did a lot for the civil rights movement in the 50s and 60s, however, as shown in the pictures, Scott King took a more constitutional approach to the movement, meeting with Democratic party member and US Senator, Robert F. Wagner, and helping pass the civil rights bill. Parks on the other hand, described as a quiet and unassuming lady, seen in the picture gazing out the bus window, created the cause for a bus boycott which would change the face of racial segregation forever. Although Parks is more celebrated and widely know, I think that Scott King, achieved a lot for the movement and should be remembered for her efforts and constitutional gains, rather than simply being the wife of Martin Luther King Jr.




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 Coretta Scott King, Source: http://www.usprisonculture.com/blog/2012/07/03/coretta-scott-king-on-going-to-jail/

 Rosa Parks,   Source: http://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-rosa-parks

Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King were both influential African-American women from the Southern state of Alabama. They both played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement: Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, which led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the eventual end to segregated transport and Coretta Scott King worked tirelessly in support of various causes, especially after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death.

Rosa Parks is recognised individually as an icon for her part in the de-segregation of transport in America. In contrast, Coretta Scott King is more often recognised as “Martin Luther King, Jr.’s wife” and many photographs show her standing by his side or looking after their four children, portraying a domesticated image of her, instead of depicting her fierce championing of the causes she supported. She is less often recognised individually for her contribution to the Civil Rights Movement, but her support of various civil rights movements before and after her husband’s death was extremely influential. She supported gay rights and women’s rights, as well as rights for African-Americans, but also advocated peace, denounced racism and poverty and spoke out against apartheid and other international issues. Rosa Parks, on the other hand, is normally recognised for her contribution to the African-American Civil Rights Movement, although she devoted her time to educational causes as well towards the end of her life. The most common image of her is usually the photo of her arrest, presenting her as a criminal, instead of as an icon and a rallying point for thousands of African-Americans who wanted to end segregation.

Both women received various accolades and awards both before and after their deaths and have become important American icons for their role in the Civil Rights Movement and have inspired many others to participate in other civil rights movements across the world.

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Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, both African American women, are two giants of the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on 4 February 1913 and Coretta Scott was born on 27 April 1927 in Marion, Alabama.

Rosa McCauley attended the local one roomed school for black children whilst white children were taken by bus to a superior school for whites only. Rosa had to leave school in 1929 to look after her sick mother and grandmother. Unlike Rosa, Coretta was able to carry on her education and received a BA in music and education before going on to study in Boston for a second degree in voice and violin. It was whilst she was in Boston that she met Martin Luther King Jnr and they married in June 1953. They went on to have four children.

Rosa took a job in a shirt factory in Montgomery, Alabama and married Raymond Parks in 1932 who was an active member of the Montgomery chapter of NAACP. Encouraged by her husband, she got her High School degree in 1933 and also joined the NAACP. Rosa and Raymond did not have any children.

It was Rosa’s refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery on 1 December 1955 that sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and reinvigorated the Civil Rights Movement. Her arrest and trail led to the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association and Martin Luther King Jnr, who had recently moved to Montgomery was chosen as its leader.  The boycott went on for 381 days but was eventually successful in having Montgomery Bus Company lift the enforcement of segregation. By taking a stand, Rosa Parks pricked the conscience of the nation and started one of the largest and most successful movements against racial segregation in history. Coretta Scott King supported her husband in his work in Montgomery and took part in the boycott.

After Dr. King was assassinated on 4 April 1968, his widow took on his work and advocated non-violent campaigns for social change. Coretta Scott King widened her approach and took on numerous causes where equality and liberty were missing. These included racial an economic justice, women’s and children’s rights, gay and lesbian dignity, religious freedom, the needs of the poor and homeless, full employment, health care, educational opportunities, nuclear disarmament and environmental justice. She founded and ran the Martin Luther King Jnr Centre for Nonviolent Social Change which trained thousands of people in Dr. King’s philosophy. Coretta Scott King worked tirelessly for the rest of her life for these causes and often met with world leaders to press her case. She was equally at ease with ordinary working people. She was beside Nelson Mandela when he became South Africa’s first democratically elected President. She successfully campaigned to have Martin Luther King Day officially recognised.

Rosa Parks and her husband suffered for their activism as they both lost their jobs in the wake of the boycott. This led them to move to Detroit Michigan in search of work. Rosa continued to work in support of Civil Rights for the rest of her life and campaigned against the Apartheid regime in South Africa. On his release from prison, Nelson Mandela told her that her actions had sustained him during his incarceration. She founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in 1987 which sought to educate young people on important issues of equality and freedom. In February 2013, to mark the centenary of her birth, President Obama unveiled a statue of her in Statuary Hall in Washington DC. In his speech he said that it was the men and women of Montgomery that made it possible for him to be President of the USA.

Both these women are towering figures of the twentieth century. A simple act of brave disobedience by Rosa Parks changed America and changed the world. She has been called the mother of the Civil Rights Movement. Coretta Scott King, widowed at the age of forty and with four children, took on the mantle of her husband and was a woman of compassion, wisdom and vision who sought to make a better world.

Rosa Parks died in 2005 and Coretta Scott King in 2006. They were mourned by all who strive for justice and freedom throughout the world.




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ImageThese two photos show very different images of women in the Civil Rights Movement. Coretta Scott King is seen as having a stereotypical female role in society at the time as a supporting wife and loving mother. She is presented as a warm and peaceful woman. However this picture does evoke comparisons to white women of the period perhaps suggesting a common bond between all women. Rosa Parks, however, appears as a dangerous female criminal. She has a untidy appearance, which may have been a common stereotype of african american women at the time. The prison photograph suggests the evil that many whites saw in the Black community at the time. Although both of these women represent the civil rights movement, they are very contrasting images which show Coretta Scott King as a gentle, peaceful mother and Rosa Parks as a dangerous criminal.


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Rosa Parks, a 42 year old seamstress from Montgomery, Alabama, was a woman who many described as being quiet, unassuming and a perfect lady. However, little did they know that Parks would provide the fuse for a much bigger issue, the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. In 1955, Parks doing the unthinkable and rising above fear, refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man. This moment became not only an act of personal liberation for Parks herself but also for other African Americans, young and old. After having been arrested, however her trial lasted all of 5 minutes in which she was found guilty of violating the state segregation statute and fined 10 dollars. This led to the transformation of Rosa Parks the person into Rosa Parks the icon, as her act of resistance led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which for 381 days, African Americans stayed off the buses which eventually led to public transport in 1956 being racially integrated.


Coretta Scott King is known to most as the wife of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but to some she is known as a self-driven and long standing champion of civil rights away from the shadow of her husband. Working side-by-side with her husband for many years, Coretta took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and worked to pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Mrs. King played a prominent role in the years after her husbands 1968 assassination when she took on the leadership of the struggle for racial equality herself.


The similarities between these two icons as shown in the above pictures, is that they both contributed to the civil rights era, they both stood up and acted against the inequality in which African Americans were facing in all aspects of life. However, the most significant contrast between these two women is that, Coretta Scott King only became an activist in her own right after the assassination of her husband as prior to this she worked alongside her husband and other African American women. Although King played an active role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, it was Parks who inspired other African Americans to take a stand for equal rights as she as an individual challenged racial bigotry rather than relying on other people. Infact, the U.S Congress called Parks “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.

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