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While Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday that honors the life and legacy of Dr. King, we must not forget about the woman who kept his dream and legacy alive – his wife Coretta Scott King.
Their youngest daughter, Bernice King, the current CEO of The King Center in Atlanta, took to Twitter on MLK Day to recognize her mother as the “Architect of the King Legacy.” She tweeted out:
“There would be no #MLKDay without #CorettaScottKing. Architect of the King legacy. Exemplary leader. Founder of @TheKingCenter less than 3 months after my father was assassinated. And she taught #MLK about the global peace movement. #MLK90”
Remember my mother. Today. Always.advertisement
Architect of the King legacy. Exemplary leader. Founder of @TheKingCenter less than 3 months after my father was assassinated.advertisement
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 21, 2019
MLK Day was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in November of 1983. It came 15 years after King’s assassination in 1968. In an interview with the Grio, Bernice King furthered explained her mother’s role in making the King holiday a reality.
“My father would not be the person that he is and (have) his iconic stature had it not been for the work that she did so I speak certain things intentionally. I have incorporated in our commemorative service (the official service held on the King Holiday) a special tribute to her so that people are reminded that this holiday that we are celebrating really would not have happened had she not been diligent and determined. She had a strategy around it. While Congressman Conyers was introducing legislation that continued to fail in the House, she was building up a groundswell of support in different cities and states across the nation, sending out letters to different municipalities and encouraging them to celebrate the King Holiday every year. So by the time the holiday actually passed as a federal holiday, many cities were already commemorating his birthday every year because of the efforts she made encouraging people to do that and even traveling to some places and then the traveling she did around the world. Most people don’t know that more than a 100 nations celebrate a holiday of a leader that is not a citizen of their nation… Before her death, she was never on a banner. She is on them now because we want people to know it was a partnership.”
As we continue to honor Dr. King, we also honor Coretta Scott King for dedicating her life to preserving the legacy of her husband and pushing the dream forward.