Coretta Scott King inducted into Judson College hall of fame

Published 1:49 pm Thursday, March 5, 2009

The late civil rights icon and wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame on March 5.

The hall of fame, founded in 1970, is housed in the A. Howard Bean Hall on the campus of Judson College in Marion.

“After the assassination of her husband, Coretta took up the cross and carried on Martin Luther King’s work,” said induction speaker and retired U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham.

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Clemon said King gave herself to two major projects following her husband’s death: the establishment of the King Center in Atlanta in 1968 and the establishment of the King holiday which became a reality in 1986.

“It’s fitting that the AWHOF for the second year in a row recognized an Alabamian of international status,” Clemon said.

He referred to last year’s induction of another civil rights pioneer, Rosa Parks.

Clemon noted that King was born only 10 miles from the Judson campus. After her graduation from Antioch College, where she majored in elementary education and music, King was awarded a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music. It was in Boston that she met her future husband, a student at Boston University. Coretta Scott King graduated from the conservatory two months after her husband accepted the pastorate of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery in 1954.

The full effect of what her partnership in the civil rights movement would cost her was realized in 1956, said Clemon.

“She was in the house with her oldest daughter Yolanda and a friend when the parsonage was bombed,” he said. “It was a miracle that no one was hurt.”

The Kings’ second daughter, Bernice, attended the induction and unveiled the plaque which will be installed at the hall of fame.

“My mother raised up four children at the same time she raised up a nation,” King said. “She taught us that the most important thing is to discover the will of God and follow it, no matter what. She was a woman of determination and courage.”

According to the King Center, Coretta King received more than 60 honorary doctorates, authored three books and a nationally-syndicated column and helped found and served on many organizations, including the Black Leadership Forum, the National Black Coalition for Voter Participation and the Black Leadership Roundtable.

Hall of fame executive secretary Bill Mathews explained that the board decided not to customarily induct two women this year or last since Park’s and King’s notoriety would overshadow the second inductee.

According to the hall of fame guidelines, a nominee must have been deceased for two years.

King died Jan. 30, 2006.