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February 6, 2006

A Shining Example for The World

Derek Shackelford

I awoke early last Tuesday morning to hear some shocking news. I try to start the day with as much positive energy as I can, knowing that at anytime things could change. That change occurred very early as I heard that Coretta Scott King had passed away.

It is interesting when you feel you know someone just by seeing them on television or in the newspaper. The media allow us only a glimpse of the people that we may see. It is this glimpse, however, that forms our opinions of the individual.

Mrs. King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a woman of dignity. Though she stood in the shadow of her husband, she was a giant in the civil rights movement herself. She was a wife, mother, coach, and an advocate of civil and human rights.

It was Coretta Scott King who, when her family home was burned, said to her husband: “We can’t move. You have to follow your teachings of nonviolence.”

Coretta Scott King knew that if the family moved it would be a sign of running from the cause. In reality if Mrs. King had not been in the game cheering Dr. King on, it is a real possibility that he would have been able unable to carry out his role as preacher/prophet.

Coretta Scott King was full of class and grace. It was her integrity that allowed her to raise a family during difficult times.

It was her integrity that allowed her to stand by her husband during trials and tribulations.

It was her integrity that committed her to marching with sanitation workers after her husband was slain in Memphis on April 4, 1968.

It was her integrity that allowed her to stay focused on the cause of civil and human rights.

It was her integrity that kept her steadfast in supporting the establishment of a national holiday on Dr. King’s birthday.

It was her integrity that would not allow her to compromise her values for political gain.

It was her integrity that kept her steadfast when she was overlooked during the civil rights movement.

And it was her integrity that inspires us to follow her example on a daily basis.

Coretta Scott King stood among the tallest trees in the forest of great men and women in our history. It has been said that behind every great man, there is a great woman. Fortunately for us, Coretta Scott King did not stand behind her man, she stood beside him. February is Black History Month. During this month we will learn about those individuals who have made a difference in the world. They are not only athletes and entertainers but doctors, lawyers, preachers and teachers. Let us learn about them – not just this month but year round – knowing that this rich history cannot be contained in the shortest month of the year.

People have bled too much, died too soon, and sweated too long for this history to go untapped. To this generation, I say don’t just learn about Black History, but make it as well.

A first step would be the creation of the William O. Lee, Jr., Black History Museum in Frederick County.

[Editor’s Note: Coretta Scott King will be buried in Atlanta on Tuesday February 7, 2006.]

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