This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has greater significance than most for many because it marks the ending of a historical term for President Barack Obama, the first African American elected to the highest office in the nation.
As we reflect upon and celebrate these two influential men whose paths are inextricably linked, let us also celebrate the women who have served as their sources of inspiration and support and the invaluable role they both have played in the successes their husbands’ are credited with achieving.
Coretta Scott King and Michelle Obama are two women that represent the epitome of everything that can be possible for women of varied generations. They have shown us how to walk with grace, excel in work and community and support an ambitious husband as an equally ambitious wife.
Both Coretta and Michelle were college-educated women, who shared an interest in civil rights and community engagement. All accounts show that it was their intellectual capacity and connection to the plight of African Americans that captured and ultimately won their husbands’ hearts.
Dr. King and Coretta would date over discussions of politics and race as would Michelle and Barack who famously went to see Do The Right Thing, a politically charged movie by Spike Lee, on their first date.
Both women sacrificed greatly to raise children – King four, Obama two – despite the egregious travel schedules of their husbands. Scott King and Obama also dealt with the financial constraints that came along with their husbands’ roles as community activists and leaders. While difficult, Michelle’s profession afforded her higher wages and Coretta’s family provided additional assistance.
Most importantly, both women served as rocks for their husbands who chartered unknown territory and experienced great challenges. Their wives were their place of strength, of comfort, and of love.
“King faced many new and trying moments, his refuge was home and closeness to Coretta, whose calm and soothing voice whenever she sang, gave him renewed strength. She was the rock upon which his marriage and civil rights leadership, especially at this time of crisis, was founded.”Ron Ramdin
Despite many untold personal and financial sacrifices, Coretta and Michelle have shown us as women how supporting our men truly has the ability to change lives untold.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated because Coretta championed and advocated for years to preserve the legacy of her husband. Today also just so happens to fall one day after the fifty-second birthday of Michelle Obama, a woman who, for millions of women of color, arguably holds equal significance to her husband.
As we recall these two great men, let us also recall how their stories show us just how much the strength of a good woman, too, can change the course of a nation.