Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Secret Behind Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Success

Without Coretta Scott King, there would have been no MLK, at least not the way we remember him today.

MLK

Photo Credit: brownpau via Compfight cc

Dr. King had his fair share of idiosyncrasies and secrets he withheld from the public: he smoked (but was careful to never be photographed doing so), repeatedly cheated on his wife, had socialist political views but never sided with any specific political parties, and was struggling both mentally and physically at the time of his death to the extent that it’s doubtful how much longer he could have continue his crusade (one account said he had the heart of a sixty year-old man).

I have no interest in tainting the legacy of this man, but understanding some of these things helps us understand his humanity a little better.

It’s easy to look at famous individuals, people who have achieved incredible feats, and see them as just that: individuals. But the truth is always a little more complex. Behind every great man, they say, is an even greater woman. And in the case of Martin Luther King, Jr., his legacy is greatly indebted to his wife.

Dr. King was just a man. And like any man with a busy career, the stresses of travel and public pressure wore on him. So much so that it was hard to resist the temptations of adultery and even more difficult to take care of himself.

When we see certain individuals as saints, as heroic figures who transcend humanity, we tend to put them on a pedestal, making their accomplishments inaccessible to the rest of us. Which is a nice-sounding way of letting ourselves off the hook.

So what was it that made Dr. King successful?

Well, it was Mrs. King.

When you begin to understand the support such figures require, you have a much deeper appreciation of how movements are built. They never happen in isolation, due to the efforts of one man or woman. They always occur in the context of community.

So here are a few things that Coretta did for her husband:

  1. She stood by him, even after learning of his cheating. Due to suspected communist sympathies, the FBI had King under surveillance and in an effort to discredit him sent photographs documenting his infidelity to his wife. But she didn’t publicly act on the photos. She also didn’t complain about the family’s financial struggles, which must have been difficult (King gave away his Nobel Prize money and was careful to appear as though he had never profited from the Civil Rights cause).
  2. She established the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Action, which started in her basement a year after her husband’s death.
  3. She fought to establish the holiday that bears her husband’s namesake and is now commemorated as a symbolic holiday for civil rights and racial reconciliation.

Coretta didn’t complain, at least not publicly, about how much her husband traveled or how difficult it must have been to raise their four children practically alone, with limited resources. After King’s death, she became his greatest champion, completing the work that he set out to do. Without her, one has to wonder how much of King’s work would remain today.

As a man, I know I would not be where I am without the support and encouragement of my wife. And it’s nice to know that’s probably more the rule than the exception. Maybe we should have a Coretta Scott King Day, as well. Or maybe we should simply reassess how we think of success as a solitary effort.

Individual achievement is always about the people behind the person. And the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King is no exception.

How can you credit successes in your own life to someone else? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Dylan Cornelius

    Looking back on my life, success has always been a team sport. The more I facilitate and develop teams in my life, the bigger my successes grow. Thanks for sharing, Jeff! #GoTeam!

  • This is great Jeff.
    Thank you.
    The weaknesses are good to see as it shows his actions are more attainable and that we could even do things without cheating or something else.
    The weaknesses are also a reminder that there is a “balancing act” and others areas of our life need attention too.

    Friends and family that see beyond our weaknesses and the bigger picture.
    They still want to help fix, the weak areas, but know there is something bigger.

  • glow

    Great post. We need to see the whole picture and not just the glammed up versions of stories. Mrs King’s a towering figure. And John Donne’s words come to mind: No man is an island.

  • Elora

    Wow, great post Jeff! I often think of all the people who surrounded great individuals in history. Like Martha Washington, and the family of Margaret Thatcher. Nothing is as possible when you’re alone. Life moves forward because of the relationships we form, the support we give each other because we believe in something. I’ll be sharing this on my social media platforms!

    And I think it’s a terrific idea for there to be a Coretta Scott King day. I really think so.

    https://outmyfrontdoorgirlslife.blogspot.com/2015/01/live-with-style-interview-with-megan.html

  • Great post Jeff! I think it’s true … that behind every great man(or woman) is a great partner who believes in them 🙂

  • Sandra Knauf

    Jeff, I really enjoy your posts and I appreciate the sentiment of this piece, but I think you might have missed the mark a little here today. No one who accomplishes something big does it alone that I know of – and those who sacrifice themselves too much helping their spouse achieve greatness (while ignoring infidelity, for example – or their own aspirations) can wind up being enablers to a whole lot of personal misery. The Bill Cosby accusations come to mind. There’s also a film out now, Big Eyes, that tells of a woman artist’s life and how the teamwork there was anything but. There are so many women who have been “helpers” throughout history at the expense of their own unfulfilled dreams and potential. It’s great to work as a team, even ideal at times, but it can also be problematic when one person’s ideals and dreams are center stage. It was “I Have a Dream,” after all not “We [Coretta and I] Have a Dream.” Women have always taken a back seat and now’s the time for a better balance in society.

    • You know, Sandra, I think you’re right. I don’t think the infidelity was good or right and it sounds like Dr. King sacrificed a lot, maybe more than he had to. I’m not even making a value statement about Coretta’s choice to stand by her husband (that was her choice and I can’t judge that), but what I meant to do with this article was point out what an important role Mrs. King played in the movement and that without her, it may not have been as much of a movement as it became.

    • Emma Hoyle

      I agree with Jeff’s sentiments, but coming at this from the POV of a single woman running her own business, I can’t help feeling it’s time to bin the phrase “Behind every great man is an even greater woman.”

      We wouldn’t say “Behind every great woman is an even greater man”, so why say the vice versa?

      Better to say “No man is an island”?

  • Julie Robinson

    Yes indeed! I’m pretty active in the community, helping to re-establish a Republican Women’s group and holding an elected position. I always tell my husband that it takes a strong man to have a strong woman. I could never have done these things without him. He’s my rock.

    • I love the way you flipped that, Julie.

  • Jana Barclay

    Excellent, thought-provoking perspective, Jeff. I relate to this as a wife, of course, but also as a person who has a tendency to think of certain others’ accomplishments as inaccessible. I think I’ll stop letting myself off the hook so easily.

    • I do the same, Jana. Reading these stories, particularly those in which King admitted to probably not being able to continue at the pace at which he was moving, make me feel not so weak or inadequate. Just human.

  • Dan Erickson

    Good post, Jeff. Like Woody Guthrie, I say women are stronger than men. I have no problem with a little smoking and even condone socialist tendencies, but I forgive MLK for cheating on his wife.

  • Jevonnah Ellison

    Wow, such an insightful post. Thank you for taking this approach.

    • After reading countless articles on the man, it seems pretty clear where the credit goes.

  • Joyce Vaughn

    Excellent post. Thats what everyone needs to hear right now!

  • Plumage

    And the counter argument I suppose is how much difference one person can make.
    For all you writers out there, did you know that both Gandhi and Martin Luther King got their ideas of non-violence from Tolstoy.

  • Plumage

    I’d also question whether ‘socialist political views’ count as foibles or idiosyncracies.

    • Fair enough. It was just an interesting thing, considering the Republican party recently claimed him as their own. To be fair, I don’t think an idiosyncrasy has to necessarily be bad.

      For example, Dr. King smoked but you never see a picture of him smoking because he didn’t want his family to see him doing that. The morning he was shot, he was stepping outside to have a smoke. When they were bandaging the wound, one of his advisors removed the packet of cigarettes from his pocket.

  • Matt Black Ink

    I think Coretta is a huge credit to MLK’s success in so far as she was able to forgive him (or at least live with) any transgressions he committed, and continue to fight for his beliefs even after his death.

    In most instances, prolific leaders depend on others to share their messages, amplify their voices and carry out their mission/purpose. After all, it takes more than one man or one woman to make a dent in something like institutionalized racism.

  • mac20q

    You say socialist political views like it is a bad thing……????

    That is something to be proud of.

    • I mentioned it more as an idiosyncrasy, as something that he’s not necessarily well known for.

  • Thanks for this post, Jeff. I don’t think we give enough credit to the hardworking families of inspiring national figures. No man is an island! This definitely reminds me of the way you write about building a community to back your creative pursuits. It’s definitely true for Dr. King. Have a great holiday, everyone!

  • Jen Reyneri

    Thanks, Jeff. Great post, as always. Moved me to write about my dream today.

  • When it comes to thinking about those special individuals behind your success, there is no better moment than Fred Rogers’ ten seconds of silence at the Emmys. Google “Fred Rogers Acceptance Speech 1997” and watch it on YouTube.

    The reverse of your question is one worth serious reflection. How many people would credit their successes to you?

    I believe one of the most important things Dr. King gave us was a story we can choose to enter and make our own.

  • jeff

    Thank you for this great reminder. I would certainly be a mere shadow of the man I am today and growing to become were it not for my wife always being behind, alongside and sometimes ahead of me!

  • Thank you for reminding us of Dr. King’s humanity. It’s so easy to compare our “real” selves to a cleaned up version of a person. And I’m also glad that you honored Coretta. Her work done behind the scenes in no less important or heroic than Dr. King’s. Btw, I have an amazingly, supportive husband who makes all I do possible.

  • Thank you for providing the space for our gratitude today, Jeff. First, without a doubt, I would be half the woman I am today if it weren’t for my son. From the day he was born, he has been a constant reminder of miracles and blessings. I have picked myself up by the bootstraps many times because he deserved the best from me. And now, with my son grown and on his own, I’ve met a marvelous man who chose to marry me. It came a little late in life, but I now know what true partnership and mutual support are truly like. How blessed am I?

  • happistar

    Jeff:

    You have delicately crafted a wonderfully perceptive and poignant
    assessment of the once “great civil rights leader” while developing an
    admirable portrayal of a loyal widow’s marital solidarity and dedication to the
    cause. Well done!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Can I just say, AMEN? 🙂

    I watched a video about leadership couple of months ago, which talked about the importance of the ‘second man’, the ‘aide’, the ‘assistant’, the ‘subordinate’.

    While we are quick to place the overt leaders in the forefront, we forget the first person who supported the cause of this leader – in other words, the second man. That man is – in many ways – greater than the leader because, without the subordinate’s initial support, the pioneer would simply be ignored or regarded as crazy for furthering a cause!

    Not sure if I made myself clear, but, yes, placing others on a pedestal is a form of ‘copping out’.

    I hail from India, the nation of Mahatma Gandhi. He too couldn’t have helped India acquire independence without the support of his loved ones.

    So thank you for this poignant and powerful reminder 🙂 ALL Hail Mrs. King too!

    Kitto

    • Love that, Kit, especially how you decided to take action. Keep up the great work!

  • jenni ho-huan

    O my, as an Asian, i certainly didnt know all these bits about MLK’s personal and family life before. You are so right to point out that no one person can every pull anything off; it always takes a community. and this is so powerful for women to know. Just that today, no one wants to be no 2. it’s causing a lot of pain everywhere from marriages to organisations to churches. thank you.

    • Actually, Jenni, I think some people love being the #2 in the sense that they don’t want to be on the MainStage. My wife is one of those people. However, I just think we have to be careful that we don’t abuse a person’s humility and ignore the fact that for every one person in the spotlight, there are usually several people behind the scenes.

      • Emma Hoyle

        You know, that’s an interesting side to consider. There are a lot of homemakers who are perfectly happy doing what they do (and let’s face it, it ain’t an easy job).

        I guess I find it hard to empathise with that sometimes, given history’s attitudes to women and the need modern Western women feel to counter that. But it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to empathise.

  • Susan

    I am disappointed in this post. I don’t see how “socialist political views” can be listed as a foible, idiosyncrasy, or weakness when they were the core of his beliefs and his message. Grouping that with “cheating on his wife”, makes it appear as if you view his beliefs as some kind of a moral failing. And smoking? Please. He smoked at a time when smoking was common, and the dangers were not as well known and publicized. And, I imagine anyone who was leading a struggle against racism, discrimination and equality would suffer mentally and physically from the strain. You challenge the powers that be, the entire United States government and people, and see whether or not you struggle physically and mentally. Combine that stress with the lack of access to healthcare and hospitals…or did you forget that a regular black man couldn’t just walk into any doctor’s office or hospital and get treated back then? He could legally be arrested or turned away. Now be the most hated black man in America and see how often you want to put your life in a segregationist doctor’s hands. And, ironically, the reason why hospitals are no longer allowed to discriminate is because of Dr. King’s sacrifice of his own health. So again, to list health concerns that as a supposed personal flaw streaks right past ridiculous into completely offensive.
    I do agree with you about his humanity, though. He was a man, and the fact that he was able to achieve all that he did in spite of the fact he was only a man, makes those accomplishments even more impressive. And you are right. Corretta Scott King was a rock, his rock, and the reason he was able to go out and create the changes he did. If it is truly not your intention to taint his legacy, then maybe you should reconsider the wording of your post. If you want to celebrate Ms. King’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement and his legacy, then I am all for it. Say that she was a great woman. If you believe Dr. King was a great man and human being, then say that. If you don’t believe it, then don’t waste your time, or ours, giving some half-assed tribute just because it is MLK day and you think you should.

    • Perhaps, it was a poor word choice, Susan. But these were interesting things about Dr. King that not everyone knew and that he himself tended to downplay. And they were also interesting in light of the power the man seemed to possess.

      For example, he was careful to engage too actively in picking a political side. He spoke more in terms of what he thought God’s intent for America was on how we as a nation ought to get back to it.

      And whether his socialist leanings were good or bad I can’t say, but I do know that this brought him under suspicion by the FBI and even affected President Reagan’s reluctance to commemorate him with a national holiday.

      I personally don’t mind if he spoked, but it’s fascinating to me at a time when this was more common that he was never seen in public with a cigarette, which I’m told was due to fear of his family finding out. He clearly saw it as a flaw or not something to be proud of. Again, no judgment, necessarily; just an interesting fact.

      From what I’ve read, Dr. King was struggling to hold it together, both mentally and physically, by the time he was shot. I don’t think that makes him less of a man; it makes him human, which isn’t something we focus a lot on when we talk about him, I think.

      And yes, he had a problem with fidelity to his wife, even up to the night before he died (one of his mistresses, whom he may have planned on leaving Coretta for, was staying in the same Motel in Memphis).

      All that to say, there was more to Martin Luther King, Jr. than we tend to talk about. Some of those things were bad, some good, some neutral. But I think the best thing about him that most didn’t fully appreciate was Coretta. That’s what I was trying to say.

      Sorry if I didn’t say it too well.

      • Susan

        No, I apologize, not for what I said, but I was perhaps a bit harsher than I should have been in my response. That was a really long day for me, and I was irritated with all the people that I see on social media who spout racist nonsense 364 days a year, and then turn around and post some misquoted line from the I Had A Dream Speech about us all getting along, and I took that out on you, which was unfair. That being said, though, I still gotta address some issues:

        To your points, fine, people say that Dr. King did cheat on his wife. No one is excusing that if it is true. He was wrong. Leaving her for his mistress, though…I doubt that sincerely. I would consider the source on that before mentioning it as if it were a fact, especially as a blogger with an audience, and especially since you say that you are not intending to taint his image. Without facts, you are just spreading idle gossip. (That “may” in the sentence indicates to me that it is not a fact.).

        The political side issue…he did not pick political sides for a reason. Political parties were as petty and useless then as they are now. How would that have helped? Democrats and Republicans at the time were equally racist, and the ideological differences between the two were really not his concern, so unless they were talking about working together to end racial and social injustice, then what would be the point of declaring oneself a Republican or a Democrat?

        And it really kills me when people who say they are Christian say “socialism” as if it is a curse word. You can say whether his socialist leanings were good or bad. If you claim to be a Christian, that is a cop-out to say that you can’t. Taken as they are, Jesus’ teachings would have been considered socialist. If you follow him, and his teachings, then you can not believe that to be a bad thing. His socialist leanings were basically love one another, and he was a critic of capitalism and how that contributed to social inequalities and justice. The Bible has a lot to say about our duty to each other, particularly people who are in need, so I don’t see how this is even a conflict for a Christian.

        Additionally, it is not his “socialist leanings” that got him under FBI surveillance and made Reagan hesitate to commemorate him. Both were due to racism, pure and simple. One must call it what it is. True, the 50’s and 60’s were the height of McCarthyism, but at the same time, Dr. King was far more dangerous because he represented a direct threat to racism and the Jim Crow status quo. Ronald Reagan was loathe to commemorate him, because he was elected by running on racist propaganda, painting black women as welfare queens and black men as violent, racist criminals. Someone like that cannot simply turn around and commemorate Dr. King. At the very least, it would upset his constituency, if it didn’t go against his own personal feelings, and since I don’t know his personal feelings, I won’t speculate here.

        As far as him mentally and physically holding it together, I just asked that you put yourself in his shoes. Of course he was struggling physically and mentally, for so many reasons. But without the context, it just comes off as a negative. I think that you should read more about him, and perhaps consider different sources. My problem with that post was more about the lack of context, because you made more assertions that I had a problem with, but just didn’t address. The Nobel Prize money and being careful to look like he was not profiting from the movement in particular. You say that, but without the why, it just comes off as if he was a horrible husband and provider, a stereotype of black men that is still around today. There is a lot of misinformation out there about Dr. King and his messages, and it irritates me that he has been sanitized into some “feel good diversity coach.” as someone else said, and then others try to “humanize” him by listing his flaws. A balanced picture needs context. You are right, there are many things that we don’t often talk about with Dr. King, and I suppose it depends on your perspective whether you think that these things were good or bad. If your perspective is that part of his message was bad, well, then, I invite you to reconsider your perspective through an examination of his full message in the context of history, and how that history is still affecting us today.

        Again, if the point that you wanted to make was about the awesomeness of Mrs. King, then HER contributions to the Civil Rights movement really should have been the focus of the post. I saw her speak once when I was younger, and she was awesome.

        • That’s fair. Yes me to put my self in MLK’s shoes and that’s what I was trying to do with this post. But I’m sure I did not give my feelings justice.
          Once again, I apologize for saying some things that so I should have been thought through more clearly. I appreciate your feedback.
          If anything I found myself relating to some of the struggles he went through. I struggle when history seems to lionize people while removing their humanity. I did not mean to taint anything but rather paint a more honest picture. I now realize that I overstepped in some areas.
          I do want to be more clear that my intent was to point out things that were not as well-known about him, including the socialist leanings. It wasn’t that I thought it was a bad word necessarily. It was more the idea that it was a lesser known fact.

          • Susan

            Ok, Jeff, I accept that. I am sure you are a great person. I have followed your blog for a while, and the post that originally drew me in was “Stop Waiting to be Picked.” I still read that occasionally, to remind myself. All that I have said and am saying now has been said in love. Truly. I want you to know that. I understand the desire to relate to historic figures. I also love history, and it is so much more than just names, dates and events. The choices that people make and the motivations behind that, their relationships with others and to the times they live in have always fascinated me. Like you have pointed out, it is important to remember that they are human, but that they can still be inspirational figures despite their various complexities.

            It is funny that you mention struggling with the lionization of historical figures though, because I was just talking with a Native American friend who had just learned how George Washington really felt about Native Americans. He was hurt to find out that George Washington held some pretty racist views of Native Americans, because he had always been taught to respect him at school. George Washington was and is definitely a huge figure in American history, though people only talk about the myths that surround him. As a child, I remember learning about him chopping down cherry trees and never lying, crossing the Delaware, and being the first president. That was pretty much it. Not talked about: war crimes against Native Americans, (see treatment of Iroquois after battles) or his beliefs about slavery (they did evolve over time, although he was the only president to free his slaves, he didn’t do so until both he and his wife were dead) I also hear that he had a terrible temper, no sense of humor, and was a bit of an elitist snob. All that, and he had no teeth. Perhaps if you need a topic around President’s Day, you could humanize him for us. I would be interested to see that. 😉

            Seriously though, thanks for the conversation, Jeff, I enjoyed it. I know those last lines were a little pointed, but I meant as fun. Serious, but fun. I just couldn’t resist. 🙂 Thank you for being willing to engage and look a little deeper. Keep it up, and have a great weekend!

          • I personally don’t see anything more human than a person who sacrifices his life to lead a deprived and neglected community to March and DIE for a simple right to cast a ballot in a small box on voting day. Isn’t that human enough? Isn’t that a greatest gesture of love?
            Listen Jeff, the Civil Rights Movement is likened to the Exodus for black people. Except we got beaten and killed as we fought. I think Susan has explained enough. If you can’t see the humanity in sacrifice of Dr. king then please don’t talk about him, okay? If you want to show how supportive Coretta Scott King was, this article should have been about her but you still took the whole Civil Rights Movement out of th article, which was what all these people were all about.
            Listen, black people who read this article aren’t impressed with the wording and the order of details. You have no idea what King did for us. You don’t know what being black means. King doesn’t mean to you what he means to us. I don’t get why you have to bring up irrelevant flaws (some which are very questionable or inaccurate) just to make yourself feel better. Why would anyone be intimidated by how much love and sacrifice another man poured out for his people???
            You say you don’t like history lionizing people? We know people aren’t perfect. But if you really are interested with the “humanity” of MLK and the whole movement, you would have delved deeper into the heart of what was going on at this time with black people.
            You wanna talk about flaws, talk about how your country excelled into being a superpower while oppressing black people, through and through, in every possible way. Yet, we just had to come to King and discredit him out of context and with zero honour. Yes, there was zero honor for MLK in your article. I had a ton of respect for you, but after reading this article, I JUST CANT BREATHE. If you know what I mean. #BlackLivesMatter

    • Susan I am equally disappointed in this post as you are, if not more.
      It’s like White people have no idea what fighting for your rights in a racist America is like, especially in Dr. king’s time when black people were subjected to the utmost segregation. You couldn’t cross into some neighbourhoods, you couldn’t eat at restaurants equally, you could be murdered for being black with no proper trial whatsoever. Zero effin justice.
      I personally don’t see anything more human than a person who sacrifices his life to lead a deprived and neglected community to March and DIE for a simple right to cast a ballot in a small box on voting day. Isn’t that human enough? Isn’t that a greatest gesture of love? Oh, but I guess some white folks look and see, oh, that’s not human enough. Let’s look for some flaws, any flaws, regardless of the fact that they have zero connection to the civil rights movement, probably just to boost their self esteem. I don’t know.
      The wording of this article was terrible and it was complete defamation to Dr. King and I seriously doubt the credibility of Jeff’s sources. It’s like people never ask twice about the information.
      This post really angered me. In short, white people don’t have black skin, a constant reminder of the injustices and abuse toward black people. It’s not surprise half-ass articles like this one come up. They really have no idea what it’s like to be black.

  • I think you are right when you say there are people who are behind those who succeed. And it is wise to acknowledge them. Thanks for posting the Mr. Rodgers tape. I just sent it to my friend who lost her husband last week. Al was one of those people who always encouraged my husband and me. Always. May it be said about us, Jeff. That we were the reason someone succeeded and not the reason someone faltered. I appreciate you and how you have encouraged other writers, myself included.

  • The legacy of MLK rises to such heights in both reality and perception that it completely overshadows and renders irrelevant the so-called moral blemishes that you have opined in this piece…bad judgment shown in this post, IMHO, that I hope is not reflective of some deeper resentment against the stature of MLK in our society. I agree with Susan’s comment below…

    • I certainly didn’t intend any judgment, Scott. I think MLK left quite an impressive legacy. I wrote about that here: https://goinswriter.com/mlk

      Here’s what I wrote at the beginning of the article: “I have no interest in tainting the legacy of this man, but understanding these weaknesses helps us see the whole picture a little more clearly.”

      I stand by that. Understanding the man, the whole man (blemishes and all — yes, cheating on your wife is a bit of a blemish in my view), helps us understand what it means to make our mark on history.

      And I think Coretta doesn’t get the credit she deserves. This wasn’t meant to be a smear piece. She endured a lot, and what we think of as “the legacy of MLK” is her legacy, too. That’s all I meant to say, and I admit maybe I said it poorly, but I stand by that main point.

      • Thanks for that clarification. The picture that I see is a man who lived and died so that others could actually live free in a society that wasn’t free for them at all…those other things you mentioned have zero impact on that picture, at least not for me…but if your main point was to give Mrs. Coretta Scott King the credit she deserves, then I salute that point…but it’s not necessary to detract from the credit due Dr. King to do so…

        • That wasn’t the intent. I didn’t make any strong value statements or judgments. The truth is she was a strong woman, and her strengths complemented some of her husband’s weaknesses.

          Jeff Goins

          P.S. Want to become a better writer? Join my free, 31-day challenge:

          https://my500words.com

  • I learnt lot of my lessons in life with the help of my mum’s support and patience. I feel there are times in life where I felt my mum could have advised me through a better decision in life but she allowed me to learn for myself, and see the world for what it is. Allowed to to learn how to earn money for myself and let me have that feeling of being able to buy things with my own hard work.

    Thanks for the reminder, Jeff!

  • ADThomason

    You are right Jeff, there should be a Coretta Scott King day.

  • Julie Robinson

    I am amazed at the number of people who are picking apart a blog article simply meant to praise Coretta Scott King in supporting her husband. Poor Jeff is finding himself having to defend his now apparently politically incorrect position of telling the truth. Why should someone who writes a factual article —in honor of MLK day— and who praises the female force behind MLK’s success— have snide comments directed at him inferring that the article is more than it’s meant to be? You all should be ashamed of yourselves! You’re making him waste his time defending himself.

    It’d be enough to make me change political parties if I hadn’t already, largely due to this type of hammering that happens to people who aren’t afraid to give the whole picture. Those of you who are nit-picking this article are doing nothing except propagating your own agendas. Even though Jeff and I would probably NOT agree on many political issues, I can tell he’s a kind, caring, and sensitive man from all the previous articles on his activities in life and his encouragement for writers. And that’s what I respect.

    I am unsubscribing from this particular piece, so save the hate responses I would no doubt get for daring to call you out. I will not be wasting my time reading them. Jeff, I don’t mind if you need to delete my response either; I just couldn’t stand by anymore. Enough is enough. Please continue with your motivating articles and keeping us on track by hosting this ‘500 Words a Day’ marathon.

    • No worries, Julie. People are raising fair points. I enjoy the conversation. But thank you for your kind words.

    • Susan

      Please see my reply to Jeff below. I am sorry, his was not a balanced picture,and without the context, I have to disagree about that being the truth. I simply pointed that out. No one (originally) said anything about political parties, so I don’t see why you felt the need to bring that up. That being said, I am glad you found a political party where you and your opinions can feel at home. I can only guess which one it is.
      I admit to being harsh, and true, Jeff has never presented himself as anything other than what you claim him to be. I am simply challenging him, and now you, to think more deeply about it.
      I hope that you don’t find my reply too hateful to read. I do love that, when people drop a reply and then say they are not going to read the replies. Just indicates that you are not interested in a conversation, only getting your thoughts and opinions out there. The internet makes it so easy for folks to do that.

  • Shairease Rogers

    I know Dr King had faults but my goodness! If he was on a pedestal you just knocked him off of it. So, I guess you accomplished what you set out to do. Correta Scott King should be praised. I just don’t like the tone of this article. It made me feel uneasy. Its like you focused more on Dr King and his alleged faults than you did on Mrs King. Not criticizing just saying how it made me feel.

    • Well, that’s certainly not what I intended to do. I didn’t share anything about Dr. King that I didn’t read elsewhere. Wasn’t trying to knock anyone off a pedestal, just trying to make untouchable historical figures a little human so that we can realize the control we have in our own hands to leave our own legacies. Thanks for reading and for sharing.

      • Shairease Rogers

        I really like the work you do. I read your blog frequently. I’ve been thinking about why it made me feel that way …IDK. I dont think we think that MLK is untouchable. If that were the case they could not have assassinated him. Just as JFK wasn’t untouchable. But, look at what the man accomplished , the price that was paid, being chosen as the leader, the face of the civil rights movement. The courage that everyone black and white had to have during that time. Of course Coretta King was beside ( not behind) him every step of the way. I can only imagine who she felt knowing that each time her husband went out he may not return. They blew up churches with children in them in this country. Wow, I cry at the though of it. To think that there was a time when I couldn’t even eat with you, Jeff at the same restaurant, go to the same schools, drink at the same fountain. I just feel that his good far outweighed anything bad he could have ever done. I’m sure you expected some dialogue about this. People don’t like it when their perception of their hero is tainted. Know what I mean…you take it personal…have a great day…..keep the articles coming.

  • blessedout

    Wow, I had no idea about all of that… what a beautiful woman! 🙂

    I’ve been shown a lot lately about being respectful to my husband (I have always greatly respected him, but I’m not the best at showing it all the time) and this is just another example to me of how respect can bless a person.

    Based upon this article, I’d have to say Coretta must have had a great deal of respect for Martin Luther King, Jr. She rose above what must have been a very difficult time for her, even going to great lengths to have him memorialized, so no one would forget his sacrifices.

    I want to be the kind of woman who shows the world how much I believe in and respect him! 😀

  • Thanks for this article. It encourages me to support my husband more and have more respect for women like Mrs, King.

  • Lauren

    Absolutely! MLK was the mouthpiece, but the moral compass was definitely Coretta, as well the countless men and women who gave him a platform! Thanks for writing this and for being honest!

  • Michael

    Hi Jeff I appreciate your post. You highlight something important — that we don’t have to be perfect in order to make a difference. Our mistakes don’t define us; our achievements do. Also, I think you shed light on the fact that no successful person or historical figure achieves greatness without the support of someone else helping along the way. Frankly, your message gives me hope. If a flawed man can accomplish something great, then so can I.

  • Me

    Wow.

  • Katy Reiber

    “When we see certain individuals as saints, as heroic figures who transcend humanity, we tend to put them on a pedestal, making their accomplishments inaccessible to the rest of us. Which is a nice-sounding way of letting ourselves off the hook.”

    There was an excellent chapter in “Lies My Teacher Told Me” about this phenomenon. The author talked about Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller and how we glorify just bits of their lives, excluding the parts that made them flawed humans. I definitely recommend it.

    • Troy

      I agree Kathy, it is easier to put someone on a pedestal and thereby relieving ourselves of any responsibility.We tell ourselves that this person must have had some superhuman abilities or traits so why even bother?

  • @GreyDynasty

    You probably meant well, but it’s a rather harsh piece -the other extreme. That aside, my husband is my reason. I owe all my dreaming and achieving to him after god