Africa Mourns Coretta King

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The profound illustration of Mrs. King's power shone when the first federal holiday was celebrated in 1986, something that was inconceivable during fiery days of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. "Her spirit will remain with us just as her husband's has," said Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor and civil rights movement activist. Many people described her as a woman of the struggle who never tired to sustain the power of women as keepers and guardians of the society's moral codes

Coretta Scott King, the widow of the late American civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with unbending determination guided and kept alive her husband's dream for justice and equality among people of all races. Her death Jan. 31 is being mourned globally including here in Zimbabwe.

She founded the King Centre in honor of her slain husband and to advance Dr King's legacy of non-violent social change. Today this institute has touched the hearts and minds of many people throughout the world. Her more-than-a-decade campaign to have her husband's birthday observed as a national holiday shook the White House establishment to the core forcing former U.S. president Ronald Reagan to sign the bill into law in 1983.

The profound illustration of Mrs. King's power shone when the first federal holiday was celebrated in 1986, something that was inconceivable during fiery days of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. "Her spirit will remain with us just as her husband's has," said Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor and civil rights movement activist. Many people described her as a woman of the struggle who never tired to sustain the power of women as keepers and guardians of the society's moral codes.
Her death follows the passing away of another luminary of the civil rights movement Mrs. Rosa Parks late last year and just 15 days after the celebrations of Dr King's 77 birthday on January 15. Mrs. King's works ranged far and wide and over the years she grew to become the most influential Black woman the world over spreading the gospel of social justice, Black emancipation, poverty, education, Aids, African debt as well as promoting women's rights.

Zimbabwe and Africa had a place in her heart. She first visited Zimbabwe in November 1983.  During the visit she toured the National Heroes Acre to pay tribute to Zimbabwe's sons and daughters who died fighting for the country. "We are going to work with women here to plan for a larger conference of women that will take place in Nairobi in 1985 to promote the participation of women in the political process, not only on the African continent but throughout the world," she said way back in Nov 1983.

She said women need resources to lead them to more opportunities. In that year, Zambia's founding president Kenneth Kaunda bestowed one his country's highest honor on her in recognition of her continued work for freedom and justice for oppressed people the world over. Mrs. King was decorated with the Companion Order of Freedom at a colorful investiture ceremony held in Lusaka, Zambia. Many people in Africa we recall her deep sense of service to people on the entire continent and to the liberation movements in southern Africa.

During the 1985 United Nations conference marking the end of the decade for women, Mrs. King said she was 'moved to tears' by the suffering of Black South African women and children who were still under the yoke of the evil apartheid system. "They made me understand that many victims of South African militarism and barbarism are little children and women left alone and helpless," she said.

"They have ducked and dogged bullets, they have watched their husbands and sons murdered before their eyes." Mrs. King supported the cause of the liberation movements in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia and personally urged the Reagan administration to support a stronger resolution condemning South African racism.
In the following year, she visited Zimbabwe again and held talks with Frontline States leaders including the president of the African National Congress Oliver Tambo and other leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement. She even visited Winnie Mandela, then the wife of the jailed ANC leader. Mrs. King guided Blacks through the emotional day of remembrance of his slain husband whose death propelled the ideals of the civil rights movement even further.

She once said that her husband's life represented "a triumph of all peoples…joined together in one human family in a common struggle for justice and righteousness." She was a firm advocate for peace, justice, equality and family values as well as supporting the disadvantaged in the US and in Africa as well.

In 1990 when she visited Zimbabwe, through the Martin Luther King Jr. Centre for Non-Violent Social Change, she donated US$2, 000 to the Zimbabwe Child Survival and Development Foundation which was founded by the late First Lady Amai Sally Mugabe.

Her donation went a long way towards meeting the needs of children who needed shelter, clothes, food and medicines.  She hailed President Mugabe's 1980 policy of reconciliation and the unity agreement of December 1987 which brought two warring sides of the country's main liberation movements together.

Mrs. King provided solid support to her husband whom she married in 1953 during the most tumultuous days of the American civil rights movement. After the assassination of Dr King in Memphis, Tennessee, on 4 April 1968, she worked tirelessly to keep her husband's dream alive while also raising their four children.

Leading Black activist Al Sharpton, in New York said Mrs. King's death was "a monumental loss to the nation and the world at large. She was truly the first lady of the human rights movement, the only thing worse than losing him her is if we never had her."

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