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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 16:56 GMT
Obituary: Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King speaking at The King Center in 2004
Mrs King continued her husband's work after his death in 1968
The assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 brought his wife, Coretta Scott King, to the forefront of the civil rights movement.

Mrs King dedicated her life to the continuation of his work for racial equality and non-violent protest.

She worked to preserve his message through The King Center in Atlanta and fought for a national holiday in her husband's memory.

Born in 1927, Coretta Scott grew up on a farm in Marion, Alabama.

Music was a major part of her life. After graduating in music and education in Ohio, she went to study singing in Boston, where she met her future husband.

Bus boycott

They married in 1953 and three years later moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where the young Martin Luther became active in the civil rights movement.

She raised four children, the first of whom was born in November 1955, only a few days before King led the boycott of Montgomery's segregated buses that began when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.

Coretta Scott King with her husband in Oslo in 1964
Mrs King travelled with her husband to Oslo in 1964 to receive his Nobel Peace Prize

As her husband became more prominent, Mrs King supported his work and accompanied him when he spoke, sometimes speaking if he was not available. In 1959 the couple spent a month travelling in India visiting sites associated with Mahatma Gandhi.

But it was after Martin Luther King's death in 1968 that she stepped fully onto the public stage, determined to continue her husband's work.

She said in her autobiography, My Life with Martin Luther King Jr, that she felt compelled to carry on the civil rights movement.

"Because his task was not finished, I felt that I must re-dedicate myself to the completion of his work," she wrote.

Campaign against apartheid

A year after her husband's death, she founded the Atlanta-based Martin Luther King Jr Center for Nonviolent Social Change to act as a focal point for his legacy. The centre contains exhibits on King and holds his speeches in an archive, as well as working to educate people on his beliefs.

Mrs King also campaigned for a national holiday to mark his January birthday, which has been observed annually on the third Monday in January since 1986.

She was involved with international issues and campaigned against apartheid. In 1985 she was arrested with three of her children for protesting outside the South African embassy in Washington.

In later years Mrs King suffered from ill health but marked the 20th Martin Luther King day at a public dinner on 14 January.

Coretta Scott King played a key role in the civil rights movement after the death of her husband and worked hard to ensure his message continues to be remembered and celebrated.


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