“Coretta Scott,” by Ntozake Shange, paintings by Kadir Nelson
Amistad, an Imprint of Harper-Collins, 2009, 32 pages, Grades 1-3.
During the painful history of racial discrimination in
the United States, heroic people have risen to show the
country the path to a more just future.
In the 1800s these people were involved in the movement
to abolish slavery. These abolitionists, as they were
known, at great risk to themselves, helped slaves escape
Later in the 1800s, great educational leaders such as
Booker T. Washington started universities to combat the
learning inequalities caused by slavery.
Building upon these advances, 20th century civil rights
leaders could move to greater justice and equality. One
great leader in the civil rights movement was Martin
Luther King Jr. Helping Dr. King was his talented and
inspiring wife, Coretta Scott King. Mrs. King was a
compelling leader as well. This book tells her story.
Growing up in the segregated South, Coretta Scott walked
five miles to school each day. School buses picked up
rural students, but black children were not allowed to
ride. So doggedly, Coretta would walk with her brother
and sister to the distant school. Academically gifted,
Coretta thrived in school. As well, she was a talented
singer, and frequently sang in church choirs.
When she had finished high school, Miss Scott attended
graduate school in Boston to study concert singing. In
Boston, she met a young minister named Martin Luther
King Jr. Soon they were married.
The young couple were drawn to the writings and
philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. Nonviolent protest,
according to Gandhi, will do more to change ingrained
prejudice than violent acts. The freedom of India from
British rule proved Gandhi’s position.
Moving back to the South in the mid-1950s, the Kings
were drawn into the violent cauldron of racism that was
crippling and destroying so many lives.
What did the Kings do to counter this hatred? Did
Gandhi’s philosophy help the United States begin to
address the problems caused by racial inequality?
How did Coretta Scott King become a leader in her own
right for all people in the United States? Have you ever
suffered from personal attacks or bigotry?
How did their deep faith in God always support Martin
and Coretta King? How does the life of Coretta Scott
King demonstrate that charity and courage can overcome
To find out, go to the library and check out this
beautifully illustrated book, “Coretta Scott,” by
Ntozake Shange. Since so much has changed in the United
States in the last 50 years, some children may find the
concept of segregation difficult to understand. This
book shows the process involved in this change.
Like her beautiful voice, Coretta Scott soared from
humble beginnings to a height of influence. So positive
were her contributions that the American Library
Association named an award after her. The Coretta Scott
King Award has been presented since 1970 to the book
that best promotes racial equality in the United States.
The text of Ntozake Shange’s book is written as poetry.
The paintings are filled with beauty and dignity. The
spiritual basis of the Kings’ work can be readily seen
throughout the book.
I hope you take the time to go to the library and check
out this title. Coretta Scott King is an important
figure in American history, and this book helps tell her
2013 Southern Nebraska Register Publication Dates
(Resume Jan 4, 2014)
November 27 (Wed.)