We know and honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all of his sacrifices unto death. The marches, the profound speeches. But never could one have seen the “King” more intimately than the true “Queen of America,” Coretta Scott King.
She was eyewitness through it all. She was the mother of his four children, basically raising them on her own while King was “on assignment.” She raised $50 million to build the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Queen Coretta successfully advocated to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday. And a hidden fact: She sued the government for the plotting and assassination of her King … and she won!
Queen Coretta shared four major challenges Black people faced/face. First, end slavery. Second, end Jim Crow. Ironically, many felt that Jim Crow was more dangerous than slavery. Why? Because as slaves we were property, we were an asset. As free people, we became a liability. So lynching, murders and incarceration of Black people was high on the agenda, because we were now considered competition. We were no longer an asset but now a liability.
The third and fourth were that Black people had to achieve civil rights and economic inclusion.
Economic inclusion, she strongly felt, was the real reason they killed her beloved King. The Poor People’s Campaign/March on Washington was a 1968 effort to gain economic justice. It was for all poor people in the United States. King organized this campaign along with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The Earth stood still for many in our country as we mourned this tragic icon lost. But a few months later, in June 1968, the Poor People’s March went forth under the leadership of Ralph Abernathy, a close friend and mentor for King.
It’s been stated that his assassination wasn’t over the concept of the “I Have a Dream” speech — he was silenced regarding his poignant but not well-known “The Other America” speech, which emphasized that there are “two Americas.” One has privileged access to education and, most importantly, to capital. In fact, the Queen’s prophetic word is so manifested today in 2022: Economic inclusion is the ultimate threat. Or should I say, economic exclusion.
There is a method to the madness. It’s the four Ds: dismiss, discredit, demonize, destroy.
We were positioned to fail. How do we reposition ourselves?
Four musts: education, an opportunity to adequate and equal supplies and a curriculum of truth of this America; board room representative to gain capital; courtroom representative to reset precedent for falsely accused and unequal sentencing; pray, pray, pray.
The Queen has spoken.
Founder and Executive Director
Southampton African American Museum
One fine body…