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Honoring the Life of Coretta Scott King

Location: Washington, DC

HONORING THE LIFE OF CORETTA SCOTT KING -- (Senate - January 31, 2006)


Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, today we mourn the passing of Coretta Scott King.

When I think about Coretta Scott King, I think about a little girl who walked 5 miles to school on those rural Alabama roads and felt the heat of racism each day she passed the door of the Whites-only school, so much closer to home.

It didn't matter, because she studied and succeeded and excelled beyond most of her classmates, Black and White. She earned a college degree, and an acceptance to a prestigious graduate school up North.

One day she met a young preacher from Atlanta, and she fell in love with him. And he told her his dreams. And she believed in them. And she decided that she would help to make them real--not just as a wife or as a friend, but as a partner in freedom's cause.

Over the next years, Coretta Scott King did that in so many ways we can't even imagine. She raised a family, she marched through the streets, she inspired through song, she led through speech, and she even dodged countless attempts on her family's life.

And when one of those attempts finally took her love from this world, she made the selfless decision to carry on. With no time to even cry or mourn, to wallow in anger or vengeance, Coretta Scott King took to the streets just four days after Dr. King's assassination and led 50,000 people through the streets of Memphis in a march for the kind of justice for which her husband had given his life.

She spent the rest of her time on this earth marching for that same justice--leading the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, and spreading her family's message of hope to every corner of this world.

I had the great honor of knowing Mrs. King, and the occasion to visit with her in Atlanta last year. She was an extraordinarily gracious woman. We sat and chatted in her living room. She showed me an album of photographs of her, Dr. King and the children. Then she told me what her husband had said to her once, at a time when she was feeling burdened, understandably, by all the stress and strain that had been placed on the family as a consequence of his role in the civil rights movement. She said her husband advised:

When you are willing to make sacrifices for a great cause, you will never be alone. Because you will have divine companionship and the support of good people.

Coretta Scott King died in her sleep last night, but she certainly was not alone. She was joined by the companionship and support of a loving family and a grateful Nation--inspired by her cause, dedicated to her work, and mournful of her passing.

My thoughts and condolences today are with her children. I ask that she and her husband now rest together in eternal peace.

Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I rise on behalf of myself, all Georgians, and I am sure all Americans, to express my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of Coretta Scott King, the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King. We learned this morning that she passed away yesterday at the age of 78. Coretta Scott King is known in history for being the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, but she was far more than that. As he wrote in his ``Letter from the Birmingham Jail'' to the concerned clergy of Birmingham about his justification for coming to Birmingham on behalf of the citizens who had been discriminated against, Dr. King said:

I come because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

As we all know from history, he took his mission wherever it took him to fight on behalf of justice for all Americans. He was able to do that in large measure with the support and the partnership of his great partner in life, Coretta Scott King. I had the privilege, as a Georgian, of knowing her since my days in the legislature. I saw her as an equal with Dr. King in the movement. I saw her as a loving mother in the raising of their four children. And I have seen her, since the loss of Dr. King, as an untiring advocate on behalf of ensuring that the legacy of Dr. King and his movement is perpetuated in American history.

A few months ago, the United States of America and this Senate honored the life of Rosa Parks as a significant leader, the matriarch of the civil rights movement. There is no question today, as we pause in sympathy for the loss of Dr. King's wife, Coretta Scott King, that she joins Rosa Parks as a great woman in American history and as a tireless advocate for equality for all Americans.

On behalf of my State, myself, and all those who love peace and justice, I express our sympathy on the loss of Coretta Scott King.

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