By: Dave Astor
Coretta Scott King, who died overnight at age 78, lived a memorable life. But one thing many people may not remember is that she wrote a weekly column for the New York Times Syndicate during the mid-1980s.
In her first column on Nov. 1, 1985, the widow of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. explained why she was doing a syndicated feature: “I have no objection to being interviewed as a way of expressing opinions, but I’ve learned to be wary. Not too long ago, for example, I was interviewed for the better part of an hour. What appeared in print were several paragraphs about what I was wearing and two muddled sentences that somehow managed to convey the opposite of what I actually said. It wasn’t the first time… .”
Less than two months later, in a Dec. 21, 1985, interview with E&P, King expanded on her reasons for becoming a columnist. She said she wanted to try to be a spokesperson for Americans who didn’t have much of a voice, and wanted to convey to those Americans that there’s at least some hope for change if they take action. This, King told E&P, could involve participating in community organizations and making “intelligent and creative use” of the ballot.
“I’m not one to feel we should withdraw,” she added.
King also said she wanted to use her column to give readers more knowledge about other countries, including developing nations. “I think that when people have a world view,” she said, “they don’t have as much opportunity to be biased.”
E&P’s interview with King took place a month before the federal holiday for her late husband was celebrated for the first time — in January 1986.
Newspapers that purchased King’s column in late 1985 included The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News, the Detroit Free Press, and the Los Angeles Times, among others.