A letter from Coretta Scott King made major headlines this past week after her words from 1986 were read on the Senate floor by Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Or, more accurately, Warren attempted to read King's letter to then-Sen. Strom Thurmond, exhorting him to reject Jeff Sessions for a federal judgeship. Thirty years ago, President Reagan had nominated Sessions, an Alabama attorney at the time, to become a federal judge. But due primarily to accusations that Sessions harbored racist sentiments, he was ultimately rejected by a bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee. As King's letter was part of the testimony brought against Sessions, now seems an apt moment to look back on the life of Coretta Scott King, an extraordinary woman.
Most people know Coretta Scott King first and foremost as the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But her lifelong advocacy for oppressed and underrepresented people the world over deserves recognition in its own right. By the time she passed away in 2006, King had achieved enormous gains for justice and peace. She was a mother, a wife, a civil rights activist, a passionate speaker, an organizer, and a source of inspiration for millions around the world. Here are just a few lesser-known facts from King's iconic life.