“Behind” Every Successful Man…not always!
Is It Just ME, or do you, too, recall the expression, ‘behind every successful man is a woman’?
I guess it was the era of television shows such as The Donna Reed Show, Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best…; “the little woman” was portrayed as the perfectly-coiffed, stay-at-home mom who vacuumed in a starched dressed cinched at her 21 inch waist wearing high-heels. (OK, I get the high-heel part!)
She had dinner waiting for her husband at 5:00, he ate in his business suit (though Donna Reed’s husband was a doctor with a home office!), she did the dishes and they retired to the living room to read the evening newspaper!
In the same era, however, another woman took a different approach and we honor her today as we are about to celebrate the National Holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, she fought so hard to have recognized: Coretta Scott King.
Author, activist, civil rights leaders; wife to Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta was the daughter of another strong woman, Bernice McMurray Scott. With no formal education of her own, Bernice pledged, “My children are going to college even if it means I only have one dress to put on”. Uneducated, perhaps; but enlightened!
“Pioneering is never easy”, spoke Mrs. King – who, BTW, had the words “to obey” stricken from her wedding vows! IT WAS 1953!!! “Not easy” and “impossible” are not the same. She made things possible; she just made it look easy.
Often portrayed as the supporting wife of he who was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, Coretta stood at her husband’s side but was often moving ahead of him. She played just as big a role in the movement as he – and she never stopped moving.
There’s the point: she never stopped moving.
Having achieved success, and I dare say fulfillment, in her role as a civil rights activist, Coretta kept moving with the times; changing with the needs of society in any given era. She accepted as her responsibility that which she believed she could do. That’s leadership at its best; not always easy, not always making you the best liked in the moment, but doing what needs to get done to make things right, possible, and fair for others. LEADERSHIP AT IT’S BEST.
“I felt blessed to have been called to be a part of such a noble and historic cause”, she said. We were blessed that she dedicated her life not only to civil rights but to women’s issues, LGBT rights, and the notion that peace is possible.
January 14, 2006 marked Coretta Scott Kings last public appearance, though it is certainly not the last of the remarkable work she was not only part of but chose to lead. She died just two weeks later on January 30, 2006.
So, IS it just me, or have you, too been blessed to have seen Mrs. King in action, to remember the changes she affected and to live with the fruits of her labor and passion.