Local women remember their friend

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Best known throughout the world as the wife and widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King was also a person in her own right. All who knew her in that way are saddened at the death of the woman who walked in the shadow of her famous husband.

However, these female friends hasten to remind that “behind every famous man stands a strong woman.”

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Jean Sherrod Jackson was first acquainted with Coretta Scott “through our living in the Black Belt community with families and friends, and connecting at first through music. Coretta took music from my relative Pauline Dinkins, as I did, and I probably first knew her there.”

However, Jackson laughs, “there was not much music in me, although I’d run into Coretta there through my kinship with the Dinkins.”

The two became reacquainted when Dr. King went to the pulpit of Dexter Avenue Church in Montgomery and Jackson was an undergraduate at Alabama State University, she says. And their friendship grew.

“I had a relative, Leola Hudson Whitted, the daughter of Richard Byron Hudson, who was a member of Dexter Avenue Church and I accompanied her on Sunday afternoons to dinner at the King home. My friendship with Coretta and Martin continued after their marriage, because all the Baptist ministers came often to meetings to Selma University.”

Jackson was then married to Dr. Sullivan Jackson and their home was on Lapsley Street near the University.

During the Movement, Jackson says, “Coretta stayed at our home and we became very close.”

The relationship grew even closer when the Jackson’s daughter, Jawana, graduated from college and was employed by Coretta Scott King at the King Center in Atlanta, where she stayed for 10 years. And Coretta Scott King continued her interest in Jawana, who traveled frequently with her mentor, Jackson says.

“It was a very personal relationship. After all, the Kings knew Jawana before she was born.”

Jackson is “saddened tremendously by Coretta King’s death. Our friendship was close and personal. I shall miss her.”

When asked about her acquaintance with Coretta Scott, Pauline Dinkins Anderson recalls “I believe it was my niece Ethel Dinkins who taught her music, mostly voice. I knew her in later years only as the wife of Dr. King.”

In Marion, Viola Hill Daniels, wife of former Mayor Ed Daniels and a native of Uniontown, recalls knowing the parents of Coretta Scott, Obadiah and Bernice Scott, “who had a farm and ran a country store in North Perry.”

“Coretta graduated from historic Lincoln High School in Marion and from Antioch College,” she said. “She met Martin when she was doing graduate work at the New England Conservatory in Boston. They were married in the garden of her family home, here in Perry County and she came often through the years to visit her parents.

“Coretta was the kind of woman Southern women were expected to be: gracious, kind and supportive of their husband. She was a role model for women and set a fine example for political wives.

“Behind every man is a strong woman. Coretta Scott King was indeed that.”