Coretta Scott King Quotations

Quotations From the Civil Rights Activist and Leader

Coretta Scott King, Montgomery, Alabama, March 24, 1965, last night of Selma to Montgomery march
Coretta Scott King, Montgomery, Alabama, March 24, 1965, last night of Selma to Montgomery march. Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images

Coretta Scott King (1927–2006) was preparing for a career as a singer when she met the young preacher, Martin Luther King, Jr. As he became a leader in the blossoming civil rights movement, Coretta Scott King was often at her husband's side in civil rights marches and demonstrations, and she often was alone with their four children as King traveled for the cause.

Widowed when he was assassinated in 1968, Coretta Scott King continued to practice Martin's civil rights leadership and non-violent activism and worked to keep his dream and memory alive. Her many speeches and writing have left us with a quotation library full of hope and promise. 

The Ongoing Struggle

"Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation."

"Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul."

"If American women would increase their voting turnout by ten percent, I think we would see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children."

"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members... a heart of grace and a soul generated by love."

"Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated."

"I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation."

"There is a spirit and a need and a man at the beginning of every great human advance. Every one of these must be right for that particular moment of history, or nothing happens."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

"My husband was a man who hoped to be a Baptist preacher to a large, Southern, urban congregation. Instead, by the time he died in 1968, he had led millions of people into shattering forever the Southern system of segregation of the races."

"In spite of Martin's being away so much, he was wonderful with his children, and they adored him. When Daddy was home it was something special."

"Martin was an unusual person... He was so alive and so much fun to be with. He had strength that he imparted to me and others that he met."

About the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday: "Today is not merely a holiday, but a true holy day which honors the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Junior, in the best possible way."

Today and Yesterday

"The more visible signs of protest are gone, but I think there is a realization that the tactics of the late-60s are not sufficient to meet the challenges of the 70s."

"Segregation was wrong when it was forced by white people, and I believe it is still wrong when it is requested by black people."

"Mama and Daddy King represent the best in manhood and womanhood, the best in a marriage, the kind of people we are trying to become."

"I'm fulfilled in what I do... I never thought that a lot of money or fine clothes—the finer things of life—would make you happy. My concept of happiness is to be filled in a spiritual sense."

About the Confederate flag: "You are right that it is a hurtful, divisive symbol and I commend you for having the courage to tell it like it is at a time when too many other political leaders are equivocating on this issue."

On Lesbian and Gay Rights

"Lesbian and gay people are a permanent part of the American workforce, who currently have no protection from the arbitrary abuse of their rights on the job. For too long, our nation has tolerated the insidious form of discrimination against this group of Americans, who have worked as hard as any group, paid their taxes like everyone else, and yet have been denied equal protection under the law."

"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'"

"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."

On Homophobia

"Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity, and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group."

"Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Georgia and St. Augustine, Florida, and many other campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement. 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."

"We have to launch a national campaign against homophobia in the black community."

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Coretta Scott King Quotations." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2023, April 5). Coretta Scott King Quotations. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Coretta Scott King Quotations." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).