Desert Rose: The Life and Legacy of Coretta Scott King by Edythe Scott Bagley

How much, besides the fact that she was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s wife, do you know about Coretta Scott King?  If your answer is, “Not much,” reading this biography will make you aware of the contributions of this talented, strong woman who devoted her life to the civil rights movement.

The author of Desert Rose is one of the people who knew Coretta best – Coretta’s sister.  In addition, Edythe Scott Bagley, a college professor, was well able to understand and describe the historic events of which Coretta was a part.

The book begins with a picture of a young ancestor of Coretta’s, working in the fields as a slave.  It then tells about her hard-working parents and grandparents, who achieved success despite the restrictions and prejudices of their era, and continues with Coretta’s story.

I never realized the full extent of Coretta’s contributions to the civil rights movement.  In addition to creating a stable home for Martin and their children, she was a talented, trained singer whose concerts told, through song and readings, the story of the civil rights movement.  She also gave speeches and worked with the movement in a variety of other ways.

When, during the bus boycott, a bomb destroyed the front of the Kings’ home, including the chair which Coretta left just in time to avoid death, she remained calm and refused the pleas of her parents and her in-laws that she should leave Montgomery for a safer place.  Throughout Martin’s career, although she realized that his life was at risk, she fully supported his work.  Even after his death, she took to heart his words that the movement would continue in his absence, and she continued her role in that movement.

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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