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King, Coretta Scottlocked

(27 April 1927–30 January 2006)
  • Jacqueline Castledine


King, Coretta Scott (27 April 1927–30 January 2006), human rights advocate and peace activist, was born Coretta Scott in Heiberger, Alabama, the third daughter of Obadiah Scott and Bernice McMurray Scott, small farmers. Coretta’s siblings included two older sisters, one who did not survive childhood, and a younger brother; like many farm children, in her youth Coretta helped to tend crops and pick cotton. She credited the early influence of her family, who encouraged her to question not only racial and economic injustice but gender inequality as well, for her commitment to social justice. Bernice Scott admonished Coretta and older sister Edythe to “get an education and try to be somebody” so that “you won’t have to depend on anyone for your livelihood—not even on a man”; both parents understood the constraints placed on young black women in the Jim Crow South and were unwilling to allow their children to let such limitations define them (Scott King, p. 34). Heeding her mother’s advice, as her sister had before her, Coretta entered Lincoln School, a private black school in Marion, Alabama, with an integrated faculty. In 1945 she graduated as class valedictorian and again followed Edythe’s lead by enrolling in Antioch College, a predominantly white school in Yellow Springs, Ohio, committed to the principles of integration....

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