By Herman Hiller / New York World-Telegram & Sun [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Herman Hiller / New York World-Telegram & Sun [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most influential couples in USA history, Martin L. King Jr. and Coretta S. King were strong advocates for women’s rights. 

The true meaning of belief and Martin’s peaceful marches for equality paved the way for women to be more acknowledged in many fields, including science and business. While King was advocating for civil rights, he was also speaking out for the basic human right of women and couples to decide for themselves the number of children they wanted and were able to care. He supported the work of Planned Parenthood and served on the sponsoring committee of a Planned Parenthood study on contraception.  In 1966, his wife, Coretta Scott King, accepted Planned Parenthood’s inaugural Margaret Sanger Award on his behalf, presented for “his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity.”

Coretta Scott was born on April 27, 1927, in Marion, Alabama. She and Martin married in 1953 and had four children. Throughout her marriage, Coretta appeared side by side with Martin fighting for the right causes but she also openly criticized the movement’s exclusion of women. Coretta took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and worked to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act alongside Martin. King has been referred to as "First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement."

King also supported several women’s right causes. She travelled internationally, lecturing about racism and economic issues in the United States and abroad. 

Following her husband's assassination in 1968, Coretta founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and later successfully lobbied for his birthday to be recognized as a federal holiday. Coretta Scott King eventually broadened her focus to include women's rights, LGBT rights, economic issues, world peace, and various other causes. She was an early supporter in the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights and took strong stand in fighting homophobia in U.S. In August, 1983 in Washington, D.C., she urged the amendment of the Civil Rights Act to include gays and lesbians as a protected class.

Coretta King died in 2006 due to illness. Her funeral was attended by four of five living U.S. presidents during that time. She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 2009.      

As Martin and Coretta dedicated their life in fighting for equality, so many of today’s women continue fighting for not only their equality, but that of future generations as well.