1. Childhood
  2. Education and Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. Family Life
  4. Assassination of Husband
  5. The King Center
  6. LGBT Equality
  7. Illness and Death
  8. Awards and Books
  9. References


Coretta Scott King was born on April 27, 1927 to Obadiah Scott and Bernice McMurry Scott in Heiberger Alabama. She was the third of fourth children. As a child, she experienced the segregation and racism that were the standard at the time. Her family’s lumber mill was burned down by white neighbors. Coretta and her sisters had to be bussed miles from their home to attend the closest black high school.

Education and Martin Luther King Jr.[]

She attended Lincoln High School, Antioch College, and New England Conservatory of Music. She graduated valedictorian from Lincoln High School. She received a B.A. in music and education from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and then went on to study concert singing at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music, where she earned a degree in voice and violin.

While in Boston she met Martin Luther King, Jr. who was then studying for his doctorate in systematic theology at Boston University. At the time, Loretta Scott King wasn't interested in finding in love. However, they fell in love and married on June 18, 1953 at her parent's house. Martin. Luther King Sr. wedded the couple.

Family Life[]

Together, Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr. decide to raise four children during the segregated times. The four children are: Yolanda Denise King (1955-2007), Martin Luther the Third (1957-present), Dexter Scott King (1961-present), and Bernice Albertine King (1963-present).

Martin wanted Loretta to stay at home, and raise their four children. Despite his wishes, she stood by his side in the struggle for civil rights. While she raised their children, she also made speeches, gave Freedom Concerts to benefit the movement, and worked to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed.

The King Center[]

In 1968, she founded the King Center. The Center is housed in the Freedom Hall complex encircling Dr. King’s tomb in Atlanta, Georgia. It is part of a 23-acre national historic site that also includes Dr. King’s birthplace and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he and his father both preached. The King Center Library and Archives houses the largest collection of documents from the Civil Rights era. Working as president, chair, and chief executive officer, she dedicated herself to providing training in nonviolence and in Dr. King's philosophy locally, nationally, and internationally.


She has spoken at many of the world's most prominent events. In 1987, she helped lead a national mobilization Against Fear and Intimidation in Forsyth County, Georgia. She served in and helped found organizations such as the Black Leadership Forum, the National Black Coalition for Voter Participation, and the Black Leadership Roundtable. She spoke with national leaders from multiple countries, including prime ministers and presidents, but also remained connected to those she worked to help by continuing to participate in protests and marches.

LGBT Equality[]

Corretta Scott King was an early supporter in the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights. In August, 1983 in Washington, D.C., she fought the amendment of the Civil Rights Act to include gays and lesbians as a protected class.

She considered gay rights crucial to an equal nation. Citing her late husband’s words, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” she maintained that there must be a commitment in the Civil Rights Movement to work toward gay rights.

Coretta Scott King's support of LGBT rights was strongly criticized by some black pastors. Those who criticized what she believed in were labeled "misinformed" - Scott's message is still similar to her husband's, to have the world viewed as equal. 

In 2003, she invited the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to take part in observances of the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech. It was the first time that an LGBT rights group had been invited to a major event of the African-American community.

Illness and Death[]

Towards her seventies, Coretta Scott King started encountering medical issues. It had came to a point where her husband's assistant had to help her part-time. Her first hospitalization was in April 2005, which was a month after she spoke in Selma for the 40th anniversary. The doctors had then diagnosed her with a heart condition, but released her on her 78th birthday. As time went on, she suffered more strokes. On August 16, 2005, she was hospitalization again, she suffered another stroke and a heart attack. According to her youngest daughter, she wasn't able to speak nor move on her right side. The doctors released her on September 22, 2005 once she regained some of her speech, and asked her to do therapy. On January 26, 2006, she checks into a rehabilitation center in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. When she checked in, she uses a fake name because of her identity. On January 30, 2006, she dies in the rehabilitation center due to the ovarian cancer. Her body was flown out to Atlanta on February 1, 2006. The funeral was held in Atlanta on February 7, 2006.

Awards and Books[]

Awards: Coretta Scott King Award for Author (received in 1984)

Gandhi Peace Prize (received in 2004) 

Books: My Life, My Love, My Legacy 

My life with Martin Luther King, Jr (published in 1969) 

Words of Martin Luther King, Jr (published in 1983)

Freedom of Movement (published in 1990)

Salute to Historic Black Achievers (published in 1992)

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Companion (published in 1992) 

Black Americans of Achievements (published in 1994) 

Autobiography of Coretta Scott King (published in 2005)