© 5 February 2006, The Griot Poet
1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now abide Faith, Hope, Love, These Three; but the greatest of these is Love."
Nary a word spoken on their first date
When a young philosophy major stated: "The four things that I look for in a wife are character, personality, intelligence and beauty. And you have them all."
She would fall under his spell a year later.
They would marry, have children, preach sermons, organize and participate in marches; dodge rocks, bullets, bombs, and CONINTELPRO pre-FISA electronic surveillance and death threats.
Yet, when she became a single mother and a famous widow, she picked up his mantle without hesitation.
It would be her purview to carry on his message of Civil Rights, Human Rights, Poverty Rights for workers in Memphis before her husband was buried, and like him: the sum total of her living was not the accumulation of things.
Yet, she fought hard to get the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change built. Despite seen by many as aloof, competing for monies from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and more concerned with Martin’s legacy than his struggle.
Before Bill embarrassed Hillary, she had to drink the bitter swill of his confession of infidelity. Even though he tried to justify it by saying “she reminded me of you,” the anger was probably hot and the suspicions of his not liking her on the trail coalesced on infidelity, not about her or the children’s safety. Yet, she stayed, through adultery, bombs and death threats…
Coretta had her own dreams and her own mind before the Morehouse fellow nicknamed “Tweed” turned on the charm. She caused quite an alarm to both Martins, father and son when she demanded the word “obey” from her wedding vows stricken: she was her OWN woman. She got her wish…
Coretta Scott was born April 27, 1927, the middle of three children born to Obadiah and Bernice Scott. She grew up poor, picking cotton in the hot fields of the segregated South, watching buses full of white kids pass to “separate but equal” schools or doing housework.
Coretta graduated first in her high school class of 17 in 1945. She thrived at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
She studied education and music. Coretta Scott competed for and gained access to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Not an easy feat even today! Her goal: to become a classical singer. She worked as a mail order clerk and cleaned houses to augment the fellowship that barely paid her tuition. Sister was on a mission…
“Tweed” smoothly uttered the words: “You know every Napoleon has his Waterloo. I'm like Napoleon. I'm at my Waterloo, and I'm on my knees.”
She replied the elegant equivalent of “Negro, please!” “That’s absurd, you don’t even know me.”
Disappointed that he was shorter than she, he made up for this by his erudition and confidence. She made him wait six months after proposing before she said “yes.” At 350 guests, the wedding was the largest Atlanta had seen – then or since.
And who didn’t wish to be the cheek she kissed when he’d be freeze-framed for magazines like Ebony, Life, Time and Jet?
“Behind every great man” is so cliché. But without Coretta, would there be a Martin we laud today? Without Eve, would we remember Adam, who cowardly abdicated his responsibly in Africa/Eden, saying, “it was this woman you gave me?”
It is fitting she is the first person of African descent, male or female, to lie in state in the Georgia capital, after Brown proudly flying the “stars and bars.”
Though we wept, the vehicle that once housed her spirit and soul reflected the beauty that once dwelled within.
And Martin now has his final Waterloo in Heaven’s blue: reunited forever with his queen.