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While the late Coretta Scott King will forever be undoubtedly tethered to her famous husband, the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., she became just as vital to the ascension of civil rights. The activist and author’s birthday is today.

Coretta Scott was born on this day in 1927, growing up in Marion, Alabama. As a girl, she endured the racial and social injustice common in the deep South while working on a cotton farm with her family. A talented vocalist and musician, she went on to study music at Antioch College before winning a scholarship to attend the New England Conservatory of Music.

It was there that she came across a charismatic young minister who was studying theology at nearby Boston University. Rev. King inquired about young woman who attended NEC and was eventually introduced to his future wife, but according to her, she wasn’t initially interested. But ultimately romance blossomed which culminated into marriage in 1953, and thus she became the First Lady of the civil rights movement.

While largely playing a complimentary before her husband’s assassination in 1968, just days after his death Mrs. King emerged as a powerful advocate for the oppressed and underrepresented.

With a brave face and while enduring the grief of losing her husband, King carried the mission of the movement and expanded it to included women’s rights, LGBT equality, and supporting anti-apartheid efforts. She also helped to create the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, better known as the King Center, in Atlanta where the couple’s youngest daughter, Bernice King, serves as CEO.

This week, NEC unveiled a bust of Mrs. King titled “The Continuation of Change,” that will be on permanent display at the school where she earned a degree in voice and piano.

Coretta Scott King passed in 2006.