Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King, C. DeLores Tucker

"Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul." Coretta Scott King

Throughout history, great women have stood by their men. The extraordinary ones stood by themselves when their men were taken. Coretta Scott King was one of those women.

She was married to a living legend who following assassination became a legendary hero. She lived with that hero's feet of clay but stayed quietly loyal. Because history is greater than any man. And Coretta King knew it.

Now this extraordinary women is gone. And I've lost another seminal role model.

Last October we mourned longtime civil rights activist C. DeLores Tucker. She was my boss, mentor and friend early in my career. And she was a close and loyal friend to Coretta Scott King.

I feel privileged to have met and worked with Coretta Scott King too. She was soft-spoken, charming and disarmingly smart. She was kind and generous but didn't suffer fools lightly. She had a heart of gold, a soul of platinum and a backbone of steel. She had enormous inner strength and outer grace.

If I had to choose one word to describe Coretta Scott King, the word would be dignity.

She was married to a public icon around whom the hopes and aspirations of an entire race were centered. The man had flaws, many of which caused her pain. After his death, she faced challenges and rumors. Hero worship and whispers. I'm sure she had many private moments of hurt, anger, frustration, grief.

But publicly and steadfastly Coretta Scott King focused on her late husband's vision, his dreams, his love for her, their children and all people's children. She carried on. That's the essence of dignity.

And she became a legend herself, fighting tirelessly not only for civil rights, but for women and other minorities, for children, society and morality. Her voice became not only a reflection of her husband's mission, but a clarion call for her own.

I said this when I wrote about DeLores Tucker, but it bears repeating here. I learned from both women a critical life lesson. It's not the color of your skin that counts -- it's the brightness of your spirit.

And, I would add, the lasting legacy of your dreams.

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