As I ponder the authentic activist life of Coretta Scott King and mourn her death, I am disgusted with myself with how little attention I have paid her. I guess her consistency in support left me believing she would live on—and on—forever. With that, I had not followed her movements with the gusto one should.
She was so worthy of my monitoring her movements like a puppy-dog with her pointedly affirming declarations about all things same-gender loving. But, what made her incredible was her willingness to return to the microphone, exercising the muscle of her views time and time again. In essence, she made sure no one would ever successfully misconstrue or disclaim her position. These are the actions of a genuine hero—a woman who was unabashedly willing to not only speak out, but pound and scrape for what is decent and right.
An executive editor of a Black online publication, who recently penned a scurrilous article opposing Black same-sex loving taxpayers, taunted me with his plan to speak to his 'last breath' his opposition to our love. I asked him, among other things, to consider that the true measure of courage is not to stretch one's body of conviction along the grain, but rather against it. Dr. King's love, and our folk hero, Coretta Scott King, did just that with decisive valor and a superb sense of consciousness—and she did it to her 'last breath.'
She said it all in clear, resonant plain-speak. At one point she reported better than a chief census-taker that same-gender loving folk, 'have worked as hard as any group, paid their taxes like everyone else, and yet have been denied equal protection under the law.' At still another, Scott King urged, 'I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.'
She reminded Black amnesiacs, many of whom were anemic and timid during the civil-rights movement, that ' [ g ] ays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery [ and ] Selma [ Ala. ] , in Albany, Ga. and St. Augustine, Fla., and many other campaigns' for justice. She paid tribute, saying, 'Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions.'
She reminded the forgetful among us that the usage of terminology such as 'special rights,' with respect to same-gender loving people is, 'ironically, the same language used as far back as 1882—to oppose civil rights for former slaves.' She explained that 'basic rights' should never be allowed to be relegated to mere 'special rights.'
What I think Coretta Scott King understood was that there is a universal language of bigotry that stretches heretofore and beyond—from racist banter and sexist roughneck diatribe to anti-same-gender loving shrill. She understood that whether people who want to claim God use it, racists wield it or patriarchal maniacs spew it—it all rounds out to the exact same number.
Moreover, no matter what Dr. King otherwise might have done, Coretta Scott King was the woman-sistah whom he loved and continually reported for duty to. She was his proven lieutenant in his adult lifelong nonviolent struggle of resistance and child-rearing. It was she, far more than all the speculators, who knew his philosophical heart of hearts. If Coretta Scott King, Martin's love and our folk-hero, publicly surmised that her man would have stood by this principled cause—no questions asked—then no contradicting funeral venue; no ordained offspring banter; no bigotry or bile; no high-level faith-based pusher-man; and no improper or non-corresponding eulogy will ever be able to alter that reality. We and our allies can hold steady in the knowledge that the devil will never acquire the reach to clip our angel's wings.
Terry Howcott is a Master of Social Work, Lecturer, Activist, Thinker, and Writer. She resides in Detroit, MI and can be reached at Terrylynnh@yahoo.com . Her Web site, www.terryhowcott.com, is coming soon.