Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I was deeply saddened by the death yesterday of Coretta Scott King. I think what affected me most was this feeling that it was the passing of an era. First Rosa Parks, and now Mrs. King. Where are the heros for our generation? Where are the ones who will stand up and say, "I am not going to take it anymore" and effect change?

I met Mrs. King at a function a number of years ago. She took my hand, placed her other hand over top of mine, and said in that pleasant dulcet quiet tone of hers, "How are you?". It wasn't "Pleased to meet you", or a simple, "Hello". She asked me how I was. Me. Someone she did not even know. I knew that I was meeting a woman important to history and the shaping of our country but to have her greet me, a complete stranger, in that way changed my entire perception of her. It was quite powerful.

I mentioned her death to a number of people yesterday and what saddened me even more was the response of most everyone. "Who?". How could someone get to their age and not know who Mrs. King was? If we do not remember or recognize the human rights heros that have gone before, how can we expect a hero for us? Someone that will lead us into the validation of our existance so we will no longer have to be shunned, ridiculed, feared, hated, killed.

I'm also passing along today an email sent to me by Judy Shepard and the Matthew Shepard Foundation. It is a shining example of the woman that Mrs. King was.

Dear Friend,

The Matthew Shepard Foundation, my family and I join the millions in expressing
their grief and sadness at the passing of Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Mrs. King was
an extraordinary human being, filled with the hope of equality for all with
absolutely no distinction. She spread her message of hope with grace and
compassion from which I draw constant inspiration.

The day after my son Matthew’s death, Mrs. King sent a letter to my family that
I would like to share with you for the first time today. This letter represents
in the truest sense the human being she was and the spirit of her work that we
should all strive to emulate.

Judy Shepard

October 13, 1998

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Shepard,

I was stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the killing of your beloved son,
Matthew Shepard. On behalf of Dexter Scott King, The King Center and the King
Center Family, I send our heartfelt condolences, our love and prayers for your
family in your hour of bereavement.

Clearly, your Matthew was a fine young man, a kind and open-hearted person who
believed in human rights and the dignity of all people. The outpouring of
sympathy from his many friends, as well as his family, is a testament that he
was a caring and much-loved human being, and his loss diminishes us all.

The epidemic brutality that took your son’s life and has caused so much pain to
your family must be confronted and stopped. Americans of conscience must work a
lot harder to eliminate this sick culture of violence that threatens even our
best and brightest.

Matthew Shepard will be sorely missed. But we will be praying your family soon
be unburdened by the knowledge that his beautiful spirit will live on in the
hearts of all of those he touched.

Coretta Scott King