King Commission honors Coretta Scott King
Published: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 3:34 p.m.
Inclement weather did not deter people from coming out to remember and to honor Coretta Scott King, the widower of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who carried on his legacy until her death.
"Remembering Coretta" was held Jan. 17 at Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church in conjunction with King Week 2007, and was sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc.
Keynote speaker, the Rev. Geraldine McClellan, superintendent for the North Central District of the United Methodist Church, called Coretta Scott King another strong black woman "who sat, so we could stand." McClellan said Coretta Scott King, after Dr. King's assassination, could have retired from public life and stayed home to raise her four children, but instead she chose to carry on with her husband's work.
"Coretta King is as well known as her husband and one of the most influential women of our time,'' said the Rev. McClellan. ''She spoke out against racial injustice and economic injustice. She carried the message of non-violence, led goodwill missions, and spoke in peace and justice rallies."
Coretta Scott King, who suffered a stroke and a mild heart attack in August 2005, died Jan. 30, 2006. She was 78. This Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of her death.
The Rev. McClellan said Coretta Scott King published Dr. King's quotations, wrote a book titled "My Life with Martin Luther King, worked to develop the King Center in Atlanta and lobbied to establish Martin Luther King's birthday as a national holiday. She said Coretta King was ''a sweet presence, committed to continue the fight for justice and whose faith never wavered.''
McClellan talked about Rosa Parks, the mother of the civil rights movement, Debra, whose story is told in the Bible in Judges, and other strong and remarkable black women who also "sat, so we could stand."
McClellan said these women dared to be different and dared to think outside the box. She called for the men to remember the "sisters were always there in the fight."
"We need to remember to celebrate and act on the foundations we have been given by Coretta Scott King as defined by her role as a leader,'' she said. ''Don't let the work of our sister Coretta be in vain."
Alachua County Commissioner Rodney J. Long, who also is president of the King Commission, said, "The women were there, no doubt about it. The women have always been there. Thank God for the women. Thank God for Coretta Scott King, a civil rights legend."
Referring to McClellan's speech, Long said, "We heard from heaven tonight."
Others attending the celebration also spoke highly of Coretta Scott King.
Paula Delaney, chairman of the Alachua County Commission, said Coretta Scott King survived the tragedy of her husband's assassination with passion and dignity and set a wonderful example for women and people everywhere.
Gainesville city Commissioner Scherwin Henry told the audience that Coretta King was Dr. King's partner. "He got advice from his wife and her blessings,'' he said. ''She had to set the foundation when he was on the road. He shared his inner most thoughts with her. And she continued his fight."
The Rev. Kevin Thorpe, pastor of Faith Missionary Baptist Church and chaplain of the King Commission, called Coretta Scott King an influential leader committed to social change and to peace.
The Rev. Bobby L. Bradley Jr., pastor of Mount Pleasant who welcomed those attending, said Coretta Scott King stood beside Dr. King during his struggles, and after his assassination, she stood where he had been in the fight for civil rights.
The Rev. Milford L. Griner, president of the Alachua County Ministerial Alliance, said Coretta Scott King was always with Dr. King, if not physically, she was with him spiritually. He said this nation and the world ''owe forever and until eternity a debt to Coretta Scott King.''
Yvonne Rawls, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., lit a candle in honor of Coretta Scott King, who was an honorary member of the sorority. Afterward, she and a group of members sang the sorority song.
Dr. Karen Cole-Smith, executive director of the Santa Fe Community College East Gainesville Initiative, who presided over the event, said Coretta Scott King should be remembered in action and in deeds. "Mrs. King left a wonderful legacy. Let's live up to it," she said.
The event also included interpretive dances by Madear's Kids World of Stars and songs by the Mount Pleasant male choir.
TOM McCARTHY/Special to the Guardian
The Rev. Geraldine McClellan, superintendent for the North Central District of the United Methodist Church, was the keynote speaker. She Coretta Scott King another strong black woman "who sat, so we could stand."
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