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Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 BK522B Adult NonFiction Book
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Summary

Summary

Desert Rose details Coretta Scott King's upbringing in a family of proud, land-owning African Americans with a profound devotion to the ideals of social equality and the values of education, as well as her later role as her husband's most trusted confidant and advisor.    Coretta Scott King--noted author, human rights activist, and wife and partner of famed Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr.--grew up in the rural Alabama Black Belt with her older sister, Edythe Scott Bagley. Bagley chronicles the sisters' early education together at the Crossroads School and later at the progressive Lincoln School in Marion. She describes Coretta's burgeoning talent for singing and her devotion to musical studies, and the sisters' experiences matriculating at Antioch College, an all-white college far from the rural South. Bagley provides vivid insights into Coretta's early passion for racial and economic justice, which lead to her involvement in the Peace Movement and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.   As Coretta's older sister, Edythe shared in almost all of Coretta's many trials and tribulations. Desert Rose charts Coretta's hesitance about her romance with Martin Luther King and the prospect of having to sacrifice her dream of a career in music to become a minister's wife.  Ultimately, Coretta chose to utilize her artistic gifts and singing voice for the Movement through the development and performance of Freedom Concerts. This book also charts Coretta's own commitment and dedication, in the years that followed King's death, to the causes of international civil rights, the antiapartheid movement, and the establishment of the King Center in Atlanta and the national King Holiday. Coretta's devotion to activism, motherhood, and the movement led by her husband, and her courageous assumption of the legacy left in the wake of King's untimely assassination, are wonderfully detailed in this intimate biography.


Author Notes

Edythe Scott Bagley , education pioneer, activist, and sister of Coretta Scott King, was born and raised just north of Marion, Alabama. She enrolled at Antioch College in 1943, becoming the first African American student. Bagley earned a master's degree in English from Columbia University and an MFA in theatre arts from Boston University. She taught at Albany State College in Georgia and Norfolk State University in Virginia, and in 1971 joined the faculty of Cheyney State College, where she was the leading force behind establishing the theatre and arts major. Edythe served as an active member of the board of directors for the Atlanta-based King Center from its founding in 1968. She also represented her sister as a speaker and made radio and television appearances on behalf of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Bagley passed away in June of 2011.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Penned by the late sister of Coretta Scott King, this posthumous volume offers a rudimentary retelling of the Kings' Civil Rights work, bookended by background on the Scott family and Coretta's continued commitment to social justice after the assassination of her husband in 1968. Bagley describes Coretta as playing host to an "indomitable sense of purpose" and a "deep desire for social justice." Though Bagley attests to Coretta's independence and own intellectual acumen, much of Coretta's life is nevertheless couched in terms of her husband's. Indeed, the 38 years that Coretta labored on in Martin Luther King Jr.'s stead are related in roughly as many paltry pages. Instead of an intimate portrait of Coretta, Bagley tends to deliver impersonal generalizations (as when she describes the Scott family history as being representative of Southern black history), and surprisingly few intimate exchanges between the sisters, relying instead on the reader's assumption of a bond. While providing relatively little new information, Bagley's portrait of her remarkable sister's life merits at least whatever value a fresh perspective can lend to the revolutionary couple's legacy. Photos. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Bagley (1925-2011) first began writing a biography of her younger sister Coretta Scott King in 1966, but the manuscript was put aside following Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. She returned to the project in 2004, offering readers what she promised would be an intimate portrait; however, it is more often frustratingly unrevealing. Hilley (Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader) undertook final polishing of the manuscript. Bagley covers Coretta's full life from rural Alabama through college and postgraduate musical training to her years with her husband and beyond. She traces the Kings' life together through both the Civil Rights Movement and Coretta's life as a mother and concert soprano. Bagley suggests that Coretta's early involvement in the international peace movement, e.g., with Women's Strike for Peace, may have influenced her husband. She then sketches out her widowed sister's continued commitment to peace and social justice and her efforts to preserve the legacy of her husband until her death in 2006. VERDICT Written in concise chapters that move the narrative along, this is an uncritically positive and opaque account of the lives of both Kings. There is little here that wasn't already known from other accounts, including Coretta's own 1969 autobiography, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr.-Jessica Moran, California State Archives, Sacramento (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Lovingly written by her older sister, Coretta King's biography has some of the strengths and weaknesses of an autobiography. It has a simple chronological narrative style and is filled with details about Coretta as a person and about Martin and the civil rights movement. Coretta was an activist for justice and peace not only because of her marriage to King. Her parents, ministers, and teachers in Lincoln School and Antioch College nurtured in her courage and conscience. When Martin was assassinated, Coretta stepped into her husband's place and completed the march in Memphis, even before the funeral. In the 38 years that she lived after the assassination, Coretta's tireless efforts had three main goals: to establish The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta; to establish the MLK federal holiday; and to promote world peace. Readers get to know a graceful, strong woman who greatly appreciated the arts. The book barely mentions how Coretta dealt with rumors of Martin's infidelities. For all interested in Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights movement, and US women's history. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. P. Manian San Jose City College


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