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I love Coretta Scott King who was forever beautiful, gracious, and just as visionary as her famous husband:

Martin Luther King, who was studying for his doctorate in theology at Boston University, had told a mutual friend he was looking for a wife. The friend gave him Coretta Scott's phone number but when he came calling she was not impressed.

"I saw this green car coming up the street and this short man," she said in an interview. "He leaned over to open the door, and when I got in the car I saw this very young looking man. I thought, 'Oh my God, I expected to see a man but this is a boy."'

When he began to speak, however, she changed her mind.

She never had any doubt that King was going to battle the status quo. "Even at the time we were courting," she said, "Martin was deeply concerned -- and indignant -- with the plight of the Negro in the United States."

They were married at her parents' home on June 18, 1953, and had four children: Yolanda Denise, born in 1955; Martin Luther III, born in 1957; Dexter Scott, born in 1961; and Bernice Albertine, born in 1963.

In 1956 they moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where the 26-year-old minister became active in civil rights, including the boycott of the Montgomery bus system.

Bishop Long said she "understood what she was getting into" when she married Martin Luther King.

"She said a statement that burned in the heart of my wife and myself, she said when she married Martin, she did not marry a man, she married a vision," he said.


"I certainly appreciate your concern, and I would appreciate anything that you can do to help."

That was the dignified but worried request for help that Coretta Scott King made in a phone conversation with Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy.

There was good reason for her plea for help. In early 1959, her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was sentenced to four months of hard labor at Georgia's notorious Reidsville State Prison, after being arrested on a trumped-up traffic warrant, as well as probation violation. (The latter charge stemmed from King's earlier arrest at a sit-in demonstration.) Coretta was deeply pained that King might not make it out of Reidsville alive.

There had been rumors and threats of foul play against him. During the tense days of King's imprisonment, Coretta frantically worked the phones trying to get any help she could for King's release.

At the time, Kennedy was locked in a tight White House race with Republican Vice President Richard Nixon. Kennedy made the call partly out of sincere concern for King, and partly with an eye on the black vote. Coretta's efforts paid off for King; also for Kennedy, who sunk Nixon.

The Democrats turned the call into a giant public relations coup. Kennedy's action was credited with tipping large numbers of blacks toward the Democrats. Nixon -- the early odds on the favorite to win the presidency -- lost by a narrow margin.

King was soon released unharmed, and the civil rights movement gained greater steam and vigor in the next couple of years. Coretta's dogged determination to save her husband energized the civil rights fight and changed the course of a presidential election, as well as race relations in America.

It was fitting that Kennedy's life-affirming and politically profound phone call was made to Coretta. In December 1955, she and King anxiously kept watch at the front window of their home in Montgomery, Alabama to make sure that there were no black riders on the buses. She stood, walked and cheered arm in arm with him at countless civil rights marches, demonstrations and rallies. She endured King's long absences and the gossipy rumors of his infidelities, and kept the family and the marriage together. That meant great personal sacrifice. For years, the King family lived in what could charitably be described as a ramshackle house. As his family grew in size, friends and family members begged him to move to a larger house. King resisted.

An exasperated Coretta fired back at King's critics that her husband "felt that it was inconsistent with his philosophy" to own property. Eventually King gave in and paid the grand sum of $10,000 for a bigger home. But he continued to complain that the house was "too big" and "elegant."

Though King critics delighted in taking took pot shots at him for his shun of personal wealth and the ownership of private property, Coretta's greatest concern remained in fulfilling King's dream, and that did not include fattening their bank account........