Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR
The New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
The Washington Post’s Books to Read in 2017
USA Today, “New and Noteworthy”
Read it Forward, Favorite Reads of January 2017
A Parade Magazine Pick
"This book is distinctly Coretta's story . . . particularly absorbing. . . generous, in a manner that is unfashionable in our culture."—New York Times Book Review
“Eloquent . . . inspirational"—USA Today
The life story of Coretta Scott King—wife of Martin Luther King Jr., founder of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center), and singular twentieth-century American civil and human rights activist—as told fully for the first time, toward the end of her life, to Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds.
Born in 1927 to daringly enterprising parents in the Deep South, Coretta Scott had always felt called to a special purpose. While enrolled as one of the first black scholarship students recruited to Antioch College, she became politically and socially active and committed to the peace movement. As a graduate student at the New England Conservatory of Music, determined to pursue her own career as a concert singer, she met Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister insistent that his wife stay home with the children. But in love and devoted to shared Christian beliefs as well as shared racial and economic justice goals, she married Dr. King, and events promptly thrust her into a maelstrom of history throughout which she was a strategic partner, a standard bearer, and so much more.
As a widow and single mother of four, she worked tirelessly to found and develop The King Center as a citadel for world peace, lobbied for fifteen years for the US national holiday in honor of her husband, championed for women's, workers’ and gay rights and was a powerful international voice for nonviolence, freedom and human dignity.
Coretta’s is a love story, a family saga, and the memoir of an extraordinary black woman in twentieth-century America, a brave leader who, in the face of terrorism and violent hatred, stood committed, proud, forgiving, nonviolent, and hopeful every day of her life.
Reynolds (Out of Hell and Living Well), an ordained minister who was a confidante of Coretta Scott King (1927 2006) since 1975, has produced from their many conversations together a posthumous memoir largely focused on King's public life. There are few intimate glimpses, although a wife and mother's anxieties come through strongly, as they did in King's 1969 memoir, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr. The present work includes an array of afterwords (from her daughter Bernice, Maya Angelou, and others) and Reynolds's postscript, "The Making of Her Memoir." It begins by revisiting King's life story and her part in historical events from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to her husband's assassination. The book's latter part traces King's political activism and spiritual commitment since Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, and the roles of their children, Yolanda, Bernice, Martin III, and Dexter, in sustaining his legacy. Overall, though some political disagreements are mentioned, this is a spiritual narrative with God as a frequent directing presence. Readers for whom the Civil Rights Movement is ancient history may get a lot out of Reynolds's rendering of King's account. As oral history, aspects will interest academic historians. "In reading this memoir, I hope somehow you see Coretta," King confides in her introduction. One does, but without the vibrancy, immediacy, and clarity one might hope for.