Feb 192019
Coretta Scott King: Singer, Wife, Mother, Activist

Coretta Scott King. She was the powerhouse of a woman from Marion, Alabama who was on her way to becoming a professional concert singer before marrying a young pastor from Atlanta named Martin Luther King, Jr.

Throughout her husband’s life and for decades after his death she fought for equality for all people. She championed full human rights for the LGBTQ community in the 1990s, well before it was common to do so.

The musical “Hamilton” brings to light the enormous role Eliza Hamilton had in keeping the memory of her husband, Alexander Hamilton, alive. Like Hamilton, Coretta’s husband was also cut down in the prime of his life and she never faltered in continuing his work and fighting to see that his accomplishments did not die with him. Here we see her looking on as Pres. Ronald Reagan signs the bill making observance of her husband’s birthday a national holiday.

By White House Photo Office - http://www.af.mil/photos/index.asp?galleryID=843&page=2, Public Domain
Then-President Ronald Reagan signs the bill commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday on Nov. 2, 1983 in the White House Rose Garden.

In her own right, King received many awards for her work in human rights.  In the realm of children’s literature, The Coretta Scott King Award was inaugurated in 1969 to recognize  “outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” Jambo Books has interviewed Coretta Scott King Award winner, R. Gregory Christie, and several Jambo Books have also been recipients of the award. I like to think of the award-winning books as books King might have read to her own four children. The 2018 author winner is Renee Watson for her book PIECING ME TOGETHER.  The illustrator winner is Ekua Holmes for OUT OF WONDER: POEMS CELEBRATING POETS, the two New Talent winners are THE STARS BENEATH OUR FEET by David Barclay Moore and MAMA AFRICA! HOW MIRIAM MAKEBA SPREAD HOPE WITH HER SONG by Kathryn Erskine and Charly Palmer.

Books that have won Coretta Scott King awards or Honors carry the seal of the award on their front covers.  The seal features an image of an African-American child reading, a dove for peace, the pyramid represents strength and is a nod to the Atlanta University Center. Below the child, the symbols of five large world faith communities, Muslim, Christian, Tao, Jewish and Hindu to support world brotherhood.


Below are three children’s books about Coretta Scott King that will help the children in your life to learn more about this remarkable woman.

WHO WAS CORETTA SCOTT KING? by Gail Herman & Who HQ, illustrated by Gregory Copeland












CORETTA SCOTT by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

The Guardian also did a beautiful story on King last year entitled: I Am Not a Symbol, I Am An Activist: The Untold Story of Coretta Scott King that I encourage you to read.







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