Martin L. King and Coretta Scott met by phone in 1952 at the urging of a friend, Ms. Mary Powell. Coretta Scott from Heiberger, Alabama was studying music at the New England Conservatory. She had been raised in a household that stressed education; her mother even bought a school bus to make sure Coretta and the other black kids got to school everyday. Martin was a grad student and recent pledge of Alphi Phi Alpha Fraternity at Boston University.
The couple bonded over talks of racial injustice, which impressed the future civil rights leader. While she admits to not feeling ready to be married when they met, and Martin was, the couple was betrothed by Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. in the Scott’s backyard, June 18, 1953. By no means was it a small wedding. According to the New York Times, there were 350 guests at the wedding of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King.
Alabama was still very segregated in 1953 and denied the newlyweds a room in the local hotels of Marion. With the help of friends, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King Jr. spent their wedding night in the back room of a funeral parlor. Five years later they took a second honeymoon in Mexico. In I May Not Get There With You, by Michael Dyson, Coretta said ”When we get in an argument, usually he just stops talking.”
The Kings would have four children: Yolanda Denise born in 1955, Martin Luther III in 1957, Dexter Scott in 1961, and Bernice Albertine in 1963.
Coretta Scott King was a woman who had known the ways of a strong female backbone in the home. Her mother, Bernice McMurry Scott, was not only the school bus driver, but she served in the community with the Eastern Star Organization, and helped her husband with his business. Coretta served the local chapter of the NAACP in college along with her college’s Race Relations and Civil Liberties Committees. When her husband was in the height of the civil rights movement, Coretta insisted on helping more out in the field although her husband wanted her in the home with the children.
After his passing in 1968, widow King took over as a leader of the movement to continue her husband’s legacy and stand up for her own beliefs. She helped with the Poor People’s Campaign that same year and brought the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change. It was also the work of Mrs. King to see that her husband received one of the highest honors in America: a national holiday.