Review: My Life, My Love, My Legacy--Coretta Scott King

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Coretta Scott King. Photo Wikimedia Commons/Warren K. Leffler
Review: My Life, My Love, My Legacy
Coretta Scott King
As Told to the Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds
Henry Holt and Company New York
356 pages
Review by Ebele Oseye
They may have killed the dreamer, but they will never kill his dream.” Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King’s timely and timeless Memoir,  My Life, My love, My Legacy provides historical knowledge essential for survival in the contemporary moment. The photograph of Coretta King joyfully dancing with Nelson Mandela is reason enough to recommend this book.    
But there is also the connection to international demonstrations protesting the brutal murder of Mr. George Floyd.  Our young, conspicuously disappointed by the insensitivity and greed of the older generation, risk health and life as they call for higher moral standards and for accountability. Dr. King was assassinated more than 50 years ago, yet, there is no distance between the fires of protest burning in sixty-eight  and the protest fires of Spring, twenty-twenty.
This powerful document published 11 years after Mrs. King’s transition in 2006 is also the gift of co-author Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds. The intensive labor, working with 50 tapes of interviews recorded over a period of 25 years and the additional dozen years spent researching, transcribing and organizing the material is reflected on every page.
Midway through the book, the moment we know would come does come. But this approaching reality only appreciates life. Mahalia Jackson cooking a meal so delicious prompts Dr. King to promise that if his next child is a girl, he will name her Mahalia. Many of us did not know that Dr. King wanted to have eight children! And why did he send his wife red carnations? Artificial carnations? We actually hear Jesse Jackson’s call, delivering the news that we knew would come. ”Doc’s been shot."
The memoir is riveting, intimate. Many stories are here and considerably amplified. Dr. King's first words, words of forgiveness (not vengeance) following the stabbing by a mad woman. The shape of the scar that remained on his chest. Someone catching a bomb thrown at Dr. King and tossing it, saving him from injury. Be prepared to lose track of time as you follow the stories that you thought you knew.
Of course history is here. Woman’s divine place in history is here. How does Coretta King answer her husband when he asserts that he is called by God? Her response is both respectful and honest acknowledging the woman’s share in all that is sacred. Coretta King also observes that “Peace and justice are indivisible” as she and Women Mobilized for Change seek to halt the bombing of North Vietnam. In describing her Freedom Concerts, Coretta King reminds us that she followed Paul Robeson’s model, speaking, educating, then singing.
This inclusive narrative, placed high value on teamwork and unity, recording the works of  many other activists including Vincent Harding, Joseph Lowery, Dorothy Height, Fannie Lou Hamer, Amelia Boyton, Diane Nash, Shirley Chisholm, Harry Belafonte, Thurgood Marshall, Oprah Winfrey, Jesse Jackson who said “The hands that picked cotton in 1964 will pick a president in 1972.”
Early in the memoir the reader joins invited guests Coretta King and Martin Luther King and 70 heads of state in Ghana, 1957, witnessing a grand ceremonial event when the British flag comes down and Ghana’s colors rise to signal independence.
The struggle is real. Fourteen years to complete the King Center which hosts more than a million visitors a year. Internal conflicts alone could have devastated the author if her ancestors had not walked with her.
Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were equal partners in the fight for freedom. There is so much more to the relationship than the superficial glimpses provided by media. My Love, My Life, My Legacy is a powerful document which allows no distance between truth and history.
“We must either learn to live together as brothers or we perish together as fools.” Dr. King.

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