- NAME: Coretta Scott King
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Women's Rights Activist, Anti-War Activist, Writer
- BIRTH DATE: April 27, 1927
- DEATH DATE: January 30, 2006
- Did You Know?: In her younger years, Coretta Scott King was as well known for her singing and violin playing as her civil rights activism.
- Did You Know?: The young soprano won a fellowship to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
- EDUCATION: Antioch College, Lincoln High School, New England Conservatory of Music
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Marion, Alabama
- PLACE OF DEATH: Playas de Rosarito, Mexico
- Maiden Name: Coretta Scott
- Full Name: Coretta Scott King
- AKA: Coretta King
Best Known For
Coretta Scott King was an American civil rights activist and the wife of 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Betty & Coretta - Trailer (1:56)
After her husband became pastor, Coretta Scott King joined the choir at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Hear two of her friends and members of the congregation remember Mrs. King’s legacy and her voice.
Angela Bassett, who stars as Coretta Scott King in the Lifetime Original Movie, "Betty & Coretta," remembers and honors Martin Luther King. "Betty & Coretta" premieres Saturday, February 2nd 8/7c.
Mary J. Blige, who stars as Betty Shabazz in the Lifetime Original Movie, "Betty & Coretta," remembers and honors Martin Luther King. "Betty & Coretta" premieres Saturday, February 2nd 8/7c.
Focusing on the extraordinary women behind the two men who would change history, "Betty & Coretta" tells the similar true stories of Coretta Scott King , wife of Dr. Martin Luther King and Dr. Betty Shabazz, wife of Malcolm X.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Coretta Scott King was an American civil rights activist and the wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. She established a distinguished career in activism in her own right. Working side-by-side with her husband, she took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and worked to pass the Civil Rights Act. After King's death, she founded the Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.
"I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation."
"Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation."
"Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul."
"I'm fulfilled in what I do. I never thought that a lot of money or fine clothes—the finer things of life—would make you happy. My concept of happiness is to be filled in a spiritual sense."
"Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated."
Coretta Scott King was born Coretta Scott on April 27, 1927, in Marion, Alabama. In her early life, Coretta was as well known for her singing and violin playing as her civil rights activism. She attended Lincoln High School, graduating as the school's valedictorian in 1945, and then enrolled at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music and education. After graduating from Antioch, Coretta was awarded a fellowship to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, the city where she would meet her future husband, famed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (At the time, Martin Luther King Jr. was studying theology at Boston University.)
Coretta earned her second collegiate degree, in voice and violin, from the New England Conservatory of Music in the early 1950s. Not long after, on June 18, 1953, Coretta and Martin married and moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where he served as pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and she, subsequently, oversaw the various tasks of a pastor's wife.
Working side-by-side with her husband throughout the 1950s and '60s, Coretta took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, journeyed to Ghana to mark that nation's independence in 1957, traveled to India on a pilgrimage in 1959 and worked to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, among other civil-rights-related work.
Though best known for working alongside her husband, Coretta established a distinguished career in activism in her own right. Among many roles, she worked as a public mediator and as a liaison to peace and justice organizations.
On April 4, 1968, while standing on a balcony outside of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, Martin Luther King Jr. was struck and killed by a sniper's bullet. The shooter, a malcontent drifter and former convict named James Earl Ray, was hunted for nearly two months before he was apprehended. King's assassination sparked riots and demonstrations in more than 100 cities across the country.
Following her husband's assassination, Coretta continued their work. She founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, based in Atlanta, Georgia, serving as the center's president and chief executive officer from its inception. In 1980, a 23-acre site around Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthplace was designated for use by the King Center. The following year, a museum complex was dedicated on the site.
In 1995, Coretta passed the reins of the King Center over to her son, Dexter, but she remained in the public eye for several years thereafter, until her death in 2006. She wrote regular articles on social issues and published a syndicated column, and was also a regular commentator on CNN (beginning in 1980). In 1997, she called for a retrial for her husband's alleged assassin, James Earl Ray (Ray died in prison before the trial could be effected, on April 23, 1998).
Learn more about the lives of African-Americans who have made extraordinary achievements in their fields, with our collection of Black History Groups.
Explore our curated collections of African-American figures, including:
Check out BIO’s original video series, American Freedom Stories, about the historic events of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, and the leaders and everyday heroes who fought to make racial equality a reality. Watch videos.
profile name: Coretta Scott King profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Who can forget Angela Bassett as Tina Turner or Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles? Do you remember who played Billie Holiday? Or who Beyoncé performed as in the film Cadillac Records? More recent African-American biopics include the Lifetime original movie Betty & Coretta (2013), starring Angela Bassett as Coretta Scott King and Mary J. Blige as Betty Shabazz, and The Butler (2013), starring Forest Whitaker and based on the life of Eugene Allen.
View our photos of African-American biopics to compare these famous figures to the actors and actresses who have portrayed them.
African-American Biopics 39 people in this group
Famous Taureans 564 people in this group
African-Americans have a long history of activism in America, from fighting for the right to vote to pushing for integrated public spaces. Activists like Stokely Carmichael organized freedom rides, James Meredith fought to integrate blacks and whites at the University of Mississippi, and Rosa Parks instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. These protests were often legal and nonviolent, and made a powerful impact on civil rights in the United States. With the help of activists like these—and many others—the country slowly worked to acknowledge the basic rights and contributions of African-Americans. Activists outisde of the U.S. include Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, who have fought against apartheid in South Africa. Learn more about the many black activists who fought against the odds in order to achieve equality.
Famous Black Activists 160 people in this group