Coretta Scott King’s powerful example after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Recently I had the honor of interviewing Martin Luther King III and his wife, Arndrea Waters King (Live Inspired Podcast Episode #610). As we discussed growing up with a historically important figure as your dad, following in his father’s footsteps, leaving his own legacy, finding love, raising a daughter and continuing the work, the conversation shifted to losing his father.
Martin shared that as remarkable as his father clearly was, there was an equally powerful presence in the house: his mother.
When Martin Luther King Jr. was imprisoned, or speaking around the country, or leading an entire civil rights movement, it was Coretta Scott King who kept the family together. When King’s house was bombed in 1956 while he led a gathering at his church, it was Coretta who was home and barely escaped with their newborn baby. Afterwards, when King implored his community to choose peace and compassion over anger and retaliation, it was Coretta who stood next to him.
Throughout the extraordinary life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King served not only as a beacon of grace and resilience to the civil rights movement, but as a rock to her husband and their family.
Perhaps at no time would that be more evident than after her husband was murdered on April 4, 1968. The world lost an irreplaceable voice for non-violence, racial justice, and financial equity. Coretta not only bore the agony of losing her husband and the father of their four children, but also the head of an international movement that others had looked to for peacefully elevating human dignity.
With her husband’s murderer still uncaptured, with no promise for her own safety, and with little regard to her own desire to mourn in private, Coretta boarded a flight from their home in Atlanta.
Despite the immense grief and pain, Coretta flew to Memphis to lead the march her husband intended to attend, carry forward her husband’s legacy of peaceful protest and show a watching world that her husband may have been murdered, but his dream would not be killed.
Her presence at the forefront of the march sent a powerful message of resilience, unity, and determination to continue the fight for justice.
Political, spiritual, cultural and personal divides can at times seem insurmountable and far too complex for any one person to make a difference. But by choosing love over hate, understanding over prejudice, and dialogue over discord, we not only do what we can to honor the King legacy, but also fulfill the dream she shared with her husband. A sword that heals—a force capable of mending the wounds of the past and shaping a future where justice, equality, and compassion reign supreme.
Given the conflicts that have recently reared the grotesque head of violence around the world, savagely affecting innocent lives again, a long road remains in the pursuit of justice.
Perhaps it’s time to reach for a sword that heals.
This is your day. Live Inspired.