By: Omowale Luthuli-Allen
HOUSTON – As we prepare for the 2020 Dr. MLK holiday, let us tell the truth and shame the devil.
When I was a young man, I had the opportunity to be in the presence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. No one ever noticed if Dr. King wore $500 Brooks Brothers suits or if Ms. Coretta wore $1,000 St. Laurent dresses. All only noticed that she was a grand woman and thought that he ought to be happy if she permitted him to drink her bath water.
It is evident that Martin and Coretta developed their inner life while most of us were developing our exterior lives – our reputations.
This piece is fundamentally about the grand woman that complimented and completed her husband.
In 1956, following the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Dr. King and E D Nixon’s homes were bombed. When Dr. King arrived at home, he checked on the safety of his wife and child. Then he retrieved the shotgun and cartridges and headed for the front porch. Coretta stopped him and told him that if he appeared on the front porch locked and loaded that this movement would be lost. Coretta intuited that this was not the time to be submissive. Coretta knew that a single spark could spark a costly racial war. By this act of defiance by the so-called weaker sex, she would usher in a new America by owning her truth and possessing good judgment.
Given the stakes, brandishing the shotgun before hotheads would have inspired Molotov cocktails and an ill-advised insurrection. Many of the police wanted black targets. Instead, inspired by Coretta, Martin told the crowd, “If you have weapons, take them home. If you do not have them, please do not seek them. We can not solve this problem through violence. Remember this movement will not stop because God is with it.”
Martin and Coretta believed in AHIMSA- do not harm any living thing by word, thought and deed. This belief was transformed in NONVIOLENCE and American-styled soul force.
On the 2020 commemoration of the King national holiday, let us never forget that without the Coretta Scott King’s intervention, it is likely that the movement for democratic rights would have stalled or failed.
Coretta was easy on the eyes, a great mother and was a formidable change agent in the tradition of Ida B. Delaney, Queen Nzinga and Harriet Tubman. Yes, women hold up more than half of the world.
On this Dr. MLK commemoration on January 20, perhaps a teach-in for our children would be appropriate. A vow for every man to never hit, slap or harm a woman would be in order on this day. All of us should read the Violence Against Women Act and support a domestic abuse shelter.
As Martin Woodard would say, A DAY ON NOT A DAY OFF!