"She'll be remembered as a strong woman whose grace and dignity held up the image of her husband as a man of peace, of racial justice, of fairness," said the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. King and then served as its president for 20 years. "I don't know that she was a civil rights leader in the truest sense, but she became a civil rights figure and a civil rights icon because of what she came to represent."I would agree with Rev. Lowrey on the first point and disagree on the latter.
I met Coretta Scott King once when as a young teen I spent parts of a summer doing civil rights work in a small Missisippi town. (story here) There was a voter registration drive going on at the time and Mrs. King and Ralph Abernathy came to town to speak at a small but packed church.
What I remember is a women of strength and Grace. I can not remember a thing she said but I remember her presence and the importance of her being there to the people who respected and admired her. She was definitely a leader of civil rights to those in that church. She was an inspiration to carry on what could still be dangerous work even then. I am grateful I had the opportunity to be inspired by her presence.