Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)

Called the “First Lady of the Modern Civil Rights Movement,” Coretta Scott King was the wife of The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., an author, singer, former president of the King Center in Atlanta, and a champion of human and civil rights causes worldwide. She received the Congressional Gold Medal and the Gandhi Peace Prize. Coretta also had roots deep in Marion and Perry County where she was born and grew up.

The daughter of Obediah and Bernice Scott (she was one of three children), Coretta grew up in this Perry County home on Highway 29 some nine miles from Marion. She was also married here on June 18, 1953, to The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., of Atlanta. The wedding took place on the lawn (garden) with King’s father, Daddy King, officiating.

A farmer and business man, Obie Scott and his wife, Bernice, also ran Scott’s Grocery next to the family home.

For the first six grades of her education, Coretta attended the Crossroads School (Cross Road School, 1896 – 1969) near the Mt. Nebo A.M.E. Zion Church in North Perry County. A one-room frame building with a wood-burning stove, two teachers taught all six grades. Coretta joined her siblings and others in walking to and from the school, a distance of four to five miles each way! One of Coretta’s early memories regarding injustice was seeing that the white kids rode on the bus to Marion for their schooling, while the Black children had to walk for miles to their little school.

All that remains of the Crossroads School (Cross Road School) is some steps, the well, and the old Outhouse!

The Mt. Tabor A.M.E. Zion Church, located next to the Scott home, was also the church home for Coretta and her family. The wonderful memorial to Coretta, “The First Lady of the Modern Civil Rights Movement,” was dedicated in 2007.

The graves of Obie and Bernice Scott, Coretta’s parents.

After six years at the little Crossroads School, Coretta (and her siblings) attended the Lincoln School in Marion where she graduated valedictorian in the Class of 1945. Coretta later graduated from Antioch College in Ohio and from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she met Dr. King. Since the Lincoln School is much more familiar to the MMI community, I decided to concentrate on the lesser known sites such as Coretta’s girlhood home, her church, and her very first school – all in Perry County.

Note: Coretta’s biography and other sources refer to the Crossroads School rather than the Cross Road School. I decided to use both titles in this blog. I also experimented with black and white film for better definition, but the film processing was less than adequate.