Lessons From Coretta King’s Life

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Who can find a virtuous woman? The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships. She bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night and giveth meat to her household and a portion to her maidens.

Wondering who

            Coretta Scott King is, right? I will tell you. She was the wife of Martin Lurther King, Jr who died in 2006, decades after the husband’s assassination. Coretta King in contrast to her husband came from a humble background where she has to feed the chickens and milk the cows before sun-up so as to make a 3-mile walk to a segregated elementary school where she was schooling on time. And in the one-room school house with brilliant and dedicated teachers she  exhibited a great potential in  music. This purpose driven woman had hardwork and education as her basic values as she continued to supplement her scholarship with jobs as a hotel maid and waitress in Boston where she met Martin. In Alabama, where she came from, she was a services ‘sister’ who would pick as much as 200 pounds of cotton on Saturday so that she could stay after school for music lessons.

I call her the woman of Proverbs 31, from Verse 10 which reads thus: “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships. She bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night and giveth meat to her household and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field and buyeth it; with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girded her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good; her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor, yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land … strength and honour are her clothing and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. … favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates”. Ouch! That was a long quote but it pays off as it gives a detailed picture of who Mrs King Jr was; little wonder the husband once wrote, “my wife was always stronger than I was. I am indebted to my wife, Coretta, without whose love, sacrifices and loyalty neither life nor work will bring fulfilment. She has given me words of consolation when I needed them and a well ordered home where Christian love is a reality.” I wonder how many women out there whose husbands can in the true sense of it openly say this about them – a well ordered home where Christian love is a reality.

And for the men, for some reason, you may think that you can go it alone, or may avoid commitment choosing instead to waste days, months or even years in uncommitted relationships. But what you may not understand or appreciate is that there is an innate need that every man desires, and that is a long loving relationship. It is paramount to every man’s growth. Developing a capacity to love is a core test but there is no greater joy than being truly committed to someone legally, financially and personally. And remember behind every great man is a great woman who would always be beside her husband, helping to raise him to greatness. Coretta S. Martin Jr did just that as she was not just supportive to her husband during his lifetime alone but almost four decades after his death, by sheer will, singled-handedly, carried on his legacy and dream. When Martin was alive, there were times that the tortuous experience he went through did a lot of damage to his psyche, to the extent that he almost gave up the course that made the blacks relevant today in America, it was his wife that nurtured his mind and faith back to reasonable strength that kept him going. She was not the kind of job’s wife that would advise her husband to curse God and die.

Back to the late icon, Coretta King Jr, was not only beautiful but had the inner beauty which is strength of character. She was infact courageous, resilience and graceful.

Hear what was written about her funeral: “By car, by bus, by airplane and on foot they came to celebrate the life of a woman who was raised in a two-room house built by her father on an Alabama farm, where she picked cotton, fed hogs and milked cows. But she went on to achieve more than anyone would imagine. It was a path that reached such heights, tearing down so many barriers, that when her life ended at age 78, the world mourned”. What can we be remembered for? What impact have we made on our partners nay our household, that will make them remember us when we are no longer there?

“Why the family?”, you may ask. The answer is, the family is the nucleus of society and charity, it is said, begins from home. The sanity, the values that we so desire to return back to society starts with how we related with our family.