BHM2017 Day 8: Coretta

She’s more than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s wife.

Coretta Scott was a civil rights activist in her own right. The Michelle Obama of the 60s. she was the mind, body, and soul of Martin’s movement. Literally, and figuratively. His confidante, aid, encourager, listening ear, partner in crime, and number one fan.

After Dr. King was killed, she continued to fight the good fight. She had her own voice, and was sure to speak up when necessary. She understood the civil rights movement was not over once 1970 came. The fight was just getting started.

As many of you are aware, the soon-to-be attorney general of this country is Rep. Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Just as Orange-in-Chief is the polar opposite of President Obama, Sessions is the polar opposite of both Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. Again, we are moving backwards.

This whole presidency (of only about 4 weeks) has been a reverse in time. Coretta spoke up already. She has already protested. Her opinions and beliefs about what we’re experiencing have been made clear, over 30 years ago. In 1986, Mrs. King wrote a personal, detailed, heartfelt, and bold letter to Senator Strom Thurmond, opposing the nomination of Jeff Sessions to become a federal judge in the state of Alabama.

Free exercise of voting rights is so fundamental to American democracy that we cannot tolerate any form of infringement of those rights. Of all the groups who have been disenfranchised in our nation’s history, none has struggled longer or suffered more in the attempt to win the vote than black citizens. No group has had access to the ballot box denied so persistently and intently. Over the past century, a broad array of schemes have been used in attempts to bloc the black vote. The range of techniques developed with the purpose of repressing black voting rights run the gamut from the straightforward application of brutality against black citizens who tried to vote, to such legalized frauds as grandfather clause exclusions and rigged literacy tests.
The actions taken by Mr. Sessions in regard to the 1984 voting fraud prosecutions represent just one more technique used to intimidate black voters and thus deny them this most precious franchise. The investigations into the absentee voting process were conducted only in the black belt counties where blacks had finally achieved political power in local government. Whites had been using the absentee process to their advantage for years, without incident. Then, when blacks, realizing its strength, began to use it with success, criminal investigations were begun.

You can read the letter in its entirety here.

Mrs. King understood the power of resistance. How ironic is it that the words directly from the very heart and soul of first lady of the civil rights movement appear at such a time as this?

Last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell when she attempted to read Mrs. King’s letter aloud. “They can shut me up, but they can’t change the truth,” Warren told CNN’s Don Lemon.

I want to set the record straight. They could never silence Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Not then, not now, and not ever. She won’t be silenced. We will continue to be her voice.

As Mrs. King closed her letter, she recognized the fact that the election of Session would simply undo all of her husband’s progress.

Based on his record, I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect not only on the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made everywhere toward fulfilling my husband’s dream that he envisioned over twenty years ago. I therefore urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to deny his confirmation.

Thank you, Mrs. King, for having the heart to resist.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-7-48-07-pm
Coretta Scott King (1927-2006), The King Center

 

Author: Maya J. Boddie

Daughter. Sister. Friend. Lover. Giver. Writer. Dreamer. Doer.

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