Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King speaks at Jewish
center, calls for unity in the Āhuman family'
Web-posted: 11:34 p.m. Jan. 28, 2001
When it comes to the decades-old battle
against hatred based on skin color, race, religion or sex, Coretta
Scott King believes working toward tolerance is not a lofty enough
She takes issue with that word,
"I think it sets the bar too low,"
said King on Sunday night, as she spoke to a diverse audience of
more than 400 at the Kaplan Jewish Community Center in suburban West
Palm Beach. "I recognize that tolerance is progress over
intolerance, but I believe a great democracy should have higher
"Instead of tolerance, we should
be calling boldly for the creation of brotherhood and sisterhood.
Let us not merely accept our differences, but celebrate our kinship
as sisters and brothers of the human
That celebration -- of not just
accepting, but embracing difference -- was the theme of King's talk,
the final of the Jewish Community Center's monthlong series, "The
Anne Frank Experience."
The wife of slain civil
rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., King has been
recognized as one of the nation's most influential women leaders.
The founder of the King Center in Atlanta, she has traveled the
globe, speaking on subjects ranging from racial and economic justice
and gay and lesbian rights to nuclear disarmament and the
She lobbied successfully for the
creation of a national holiday to commemorate her husband's birthday
and wrote a book about her life with her husband and their work in
the Civil Rights movement.
And there is still
much left to the struggle, she said.
pressed for stricter federal, state and local legislation against
hate crimes, as well as increased funding for educational programs
that expose children to different cultures and
More teaching about people's
differences, King reasoned, could lessen the need that some have to
harass and abuse those who are not like
"It is a sickness of spirit that makes a
person feel adequate only when they have some group to put down."
She also rallied the crowd to show "active
compassion and willingness to help the disadvantaged," ticking off
statistics that 1 in 4 children in the United States lives in
poverty, while millions of children attend substandard schools or do
not have health insurance.
"Their families need
help, not lectures," she said. "In supporting people to achieve
their aspirations, we not only bring hope and opportunity into their
lives, but also greater meaning, purpose and nobility to our
King called upon President George W. Bush
to make good on his promises of "compassionate conservatism," and
said corporations should be challenged to put its resources behind
more social change.
"All of the religious
organizations in America put together have a small fraction of the
resources available to corporations," King said. "If the president
were to ... appeal to corporate America to exercise more
responsibility and increase its commitment to community service, it
could make a significant different in the lives of billions of
Americans who need help."
In discussing what
changes society still must make as its people strive to be more
accepting, King stressed that this nation should serve as an example
of honoring brotherhood and sisterhood.
believe America has a special mission. Surely God didn't put the
full radiant rainbow of humanity in this land by coincidence," she
said. "I think we have all been tossed on these shores together to
provide an irresistible demonstration of the beloved community for
the rest of the world."
It was a hope that her
daughters would be exposed to "different kinds of people" that
brought Sandy Sikes of Jupiter to King's speech Sunday
"I thought it was good for them," said
Sikes, flanked by her two young daughters.
King's message seemed to resonate with Margo Sikes,
"She made me think about how different the
world is," Margo said.
Kathy Bushouse can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or