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Reactions to Coretta Scott King's Passing
by Andrew Davis
2006-03-01

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As soon as word spread of Mrs. King's passing, individuals and organizations from around the country expressed their grief and memories. Below is just a sample of local and national reactions—many from the LGBT community—that were gathered from press releases and e-mails:

Soulforce: 'Soulforce, a national social justice movement, express [ es ] deep sadness at the news that Coretta Scott King has passed away at the age of 78. Her legacy will live on in the work of all of the advocacy groups founded on the principles of nonviolence taught by her husband, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'

Lora Branch, Chicago Department of Public Health: 'I am very saddened by this news. As you know, Mrs. King was steadfast in her support of AIDS organizations and issues. She also stood up for us within the LGBT community when other civil-rights activists ( including members of her own family ) did not. For that and many other reasons, her death is a tremendous loss for us all. She will be missed.'

T.J. Williams, local gay contemporary gospel singer: 'I woke up humming and singing 'Lift Every Voice and Sing,' a song of our weary years and song of our silent tears. Mrs King once said that justice does not only include racial but it crosses the line into gay and lesbian people. I believe that we in the gay and lesbian community must privately and publicity mourn this loss, because she was a woman of conviction. Also, [ we must remember ] that if the gay community is divided among color lines, we will never get anywhere in this fight for equality.

Earl G. Graves, Sr., founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine: 'Although marked by enormous heartbreak, Mrs. King was a pillar of strength and dignity. Her resolve to persist in our nation's struggle for racial equality—despite overwhelming adversity—will serve as an inspiration for generations. She was a remarkable woman, devoted to family, and never wavering in her hope and belief that 'the dream' may someday become a reality.'

Eric Stern, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats: 'Standing behind a great movement was a grand woman who shouldered the hopes of our American dream. Returning to Memphis five days after the assassination of her husband to demand justice for working families, Coretta Scott King continued her advocacy for the expansion of liberty embodied by their partnership. Mrs. King argued that our nation would not fulfill its promise unless all Americans, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens, were afforded equal treatment under the law.'

Clarence B. Jones, former advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr.: 'I was saddened to hear about the passing of Coretta Scott King. Coretta was the bedrock of the household and family of Martin Luther King, Jr. … All who worked closely with Martin and all America owe a great debt to Coretta's devotion to the 'Movement.''

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill: '…When one of those attempts [ on her family's life ] finally took her love from this world, [ Mrs. King ] made the selfless decision to carry on. With no time to cry or mourn, to wallow in anger or vengeance, Coretta Scott King took to the streets just four days after the assassination and lead 50,000 through the streets of Memphis in a march for the kind of justice that her husband gave his life for. She spent the rest of her time here marching for that same justice—leading the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta and spreading her family's message of hope to every corner of this world.'

Black AIDS Institute: 'Mrs. King boldly framed our fight against the forces that fuel the AIDS epidemic as part of that mission. That is why she was among the first Heroes in the Struggle the Institute honored. She contributed her voice to our campaigns time and again—and to countless other efforts to help Black America save itself from this scourge. Whether it was poverty or homophobia, Mrs. King bravely urged us to open our arms and hearts so that we may truly be our brothers' and sisters' keepers.'

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force: 'Our community has lost a dear and courageous friend, someone who was there for us when virtually no one else was. From the beginning, Mrs. King understood that homophobia is hate, and hate has no place in the Beloved Community that she and Dr. King envisioned for our nation and our world.'

Jasmyne Cannick, co-chair of the Stonewall Democrats Black Caucus: 'Black or non-Black, gay or straight, Mrs. King dedicated her life to love, justice, equality, and global human rights and for that we are truly grateful. Today is a sad day for the world, but we can honor her memory and her husband's dream by using their lives as an example and by making the promise of freedom, equality and opportunity real for all people.'

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign: 'Once in a lifetime, God grants us with the ability to witness an extraordinary life dedicated to justice. With Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., God smiled on us and fortunately granted us two.'

Sandy Dyer, Lesbian Community Cancer Project board of directors: ''Behind every great man, there is a great woman.' I'm deeply saddened by the loss of Coretta Scott King, another leader of my generation. The brief newscast made me relive the history making moments in our ongoing struggle for civil rights. I will miss her and all that she and her husband did so that I can be the empowered person that I am today. We must continue the spirit of the movement.'

Stan Sloan, chief executive officer of Chicago House: 'Coretta consistently saw the bigger picture of how interrelated civil rights and the infringement of those rights are between groups of all classes, orientations and colors. Her courage in consistently standing up for the rights of even the most marginalized groups was a testament to the legacy that Dr. King left. The world is a less beautiful place without her.'

Patrick Guerriero, president of Log Cabin Republicans: 'Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to Coretta Scott King. The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King will carry on for generations. Their work, advancing the cause of equality and human rights, has made our nation and our world a much better place.'

C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network: ' [ Mrs. King ] was what Virginia Woolf once called that rare combination of 'granite and rainbow,' at once an immovable legacy on which we all stood and a luminous reminder of the arc waiting just behind the rain. A tireless advocate for equality, she leaves us both her own work and the work we must all yet do.'


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