Monday, February 06, 2006

Coretta Scott King

(44) Coretta Scott King

The Marquee on the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York is lighted up morning and night these days. It says something about remembering Coretta Scott King, withthout ever mentioning her name.

It’s the right venue, and the right sentiment. And everyone who passes the hall knows what it means.

It’s short; devoid of Hallmark sentimentality.

The outpouring of sympathy, tribute and remembrance has gone to avalanche proportions and so it will be at her funeral.

And so it was in the State of the Union address.

That was the President’s first topic, and the only one with which he spoke meaningfully, even if he may not have meant it.

The President’s relatives might have owned service stations that wouldn’t have pumped gas for Mrs. King. The President’s relatives were people in power when she was just a homemaker for her preacher husband and kids and who opposed allowing her to sit at a Woolworth lunch counter.

But all that has changed. The Prez and his ilk have co-opted or tried to co-opt that era and the people who made it what it was.

What would have been the status of the FBI investigation of Martin Luther King had Ashcroft or Gonzales had been Attorney General at the time?

Nothing different, be assured.

The young Mrs. King was a pretty woman. The older Mrs. King was stately.

Does anyone know what she was really like? Maybe some family members. Not the rest of us.

Does it matter?

No.

But what DOES matter is this:

She was more than the grieving widow of a martyr.

She was more than a symbol of the violent era in which her husband operated.

She was a person. She was a mother. She was a woman who probably bought Advil and pantyhose at her local CVS or Pepsi and frozen broccoli and cheese at her local supermarket.

Probably watched the Braves on TV. May have gone to see the Atlanta Symphony or “The Curse of the Ware Rabbit.” Liked Brokaw better than Rather or Jennings better than Brokaw.

Drove a car.

Got pissed off at her kids. Itched. Fed the birds.

We probably will never know. We don’t need to.

But the Coretta Scott King who died was more – and less – than the public persona we assigned her.

And while singing her praises from the halls of Congress or the marquee of the Apollo, or this blog, we ought to remember that.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

1 comment:

John G said...

As for Bush's appropriation of Dr. King's legacy: Conservatives always do that. They hate and fight anyone who's for the people, but when that person has been safely dead for a while they hail him/her as a champion of our legacy, claim to be acting in her/his spirit and wave the flag once again. Remember all the conservatives who adopted JFK as their own and even copied his hair-style a few decades ago? If there was anyone who was any good around in our day, that person would get the same treatment.