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King's widow reflects on husband's legacy

Coretta Scott King makes rare public appearance on what would have been her husband’s, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, 76th birthday.
Tavis Smiley, right, host of The Tavis Smiley Show, talks with Coretta Scott King, left, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., at Ebenezer Baptist Church.W.a.harewood / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Sitting in the same spot where her husband preached equality more than four decades ago, Coretta Scott King said Saturday that Martin Luther King Jr.’s message is as relevant today as it was in the 1960s.

“It’s as if he were writing for this period,” King said in a rare public appearance on what would have been her husband’s 76th birthday. “Nonviolence would work today, it would work 2,000 years from now, it would work 5,000 years from now.

“If Martin’s philosophy had been lived out in Iraq, we wouldn’t have bin Laden,” she said.
King reminisced about her life with — and without — the slain civil rights leader in an appearance at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

"Many, many memories
Hundreds of people filled the pews and stood in the aisles to hear her speak in the same church where Martin Luther King Jr. was preacher from 1960 until his death in 1968 at age 39.
“I have many, many memories of being in this sanctuary,” King said in a presentation in the form of an interview with PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley.

King’s appearance was part of the 12th annual Hands on Atlanta Martin Luther King Jr. Service Summit. The event continues through Monday.

Dressed in a red suit and wearing her signature coif, King said her husband’s “moral voice” is missing from American society but she is committed to spreading his teachings — a task she said she embraced during her marriage.

“As we were thrust into the cause, it was my cause, too,” she said. “I married the man and the cause. I realized I, too, could be killed.”

Help husband through disappointment
King said she helped her husband through times of disappointment when he grew weary of his fight for equality, adding that he was frequently depressed when people would riot.
“I would tell him, ’You’re the only one who’s making any sense right now,”’ she said. “I tried to think of positive, uplifting and true things to say.”

After King’s death, the King Center, a memorial and resource center honoring him, became Coretta Scott King’s legacy and vision, along with raising her children.

“When he died, I knew I didn’t have his abilities and skills, but I have my own,” she said.
Marni Rogers, 34, said attending the event was an inspirational and educational experience.
“To see her in Ebenezer being interviewed was a historical moment, very moving,” she said.