I have to say that this book was very eye-opening to me. I did not know about half the things that Mrs. King goes into with this memoir. I say it was very much like reading a history book in which you already know the names, places, and people, but it feels like you were there. I will say that the shifting timelines through me a bit here and there though. I like to read memoirs in a linear format since jumping around back and forth can be confusing. Also, some parts of this memoir at times felt unfinished. I wanted to go back and ask a question which of course I can't do.
"My Life, My Love, My Legacy" is Coretta Scott King's memoir. It talks about her childhood, her marriage to Martin Luther King, Jr., and all of her efforts to keep preaching his beliefs about non-violence being the way forward for African Americans in the United States. She also provides details into her friendships with some very powerful leaders in their own right (Indira Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Betty Shabazz, and Myrlie Evers-Williams).
I think the book is a bit slow to start. When Coretta Scott King begins her tale of her childhood and her parents it definitely holds your attention. But I think that it ended up a bit garbled here and there just because of the time-line jumping. I also wish that we had heard more about her family throughout the book. We hear about her parents earlier on, but don't go back to them much until the very end of the book.
From there we go into Mrs. King's affinity for music. I honestly had no idea that she was an accomplished singer and had gone to school to train to become a classical singer. I also have to say it was eye-opening to read about her thoughts and feelings about the Civil Rights movement. It seems even now many of us don't know much about the women involved with the movement beyond Rosa Parks. I was surprised to see how heavily Coretta Scott King and other women were involved.
I also have to applaud her candor talking about how chauvinistic the Baptists were with regards to women leaders. She is upfront about it and also upfront about the sad fact that other countries in the world had elected women to the highest levels of government, yet the United States was (and still is) lacking in the regard.
I also love her for confronting the rumors of her husband's infidelity. I had heard a little here and there about J. Edgar Hoover's hatred of Dr. King, but when you read this book and read all of the things he got up to. Yeah...I am good with still not being a fan of that man.
Though the book jumps around, it does hit upon some dates of importance in the civil rights movement in the United States. We get to her Mrs. King's thoughts on women and African American men and women running for office, apartheid, and even her comments on whether James Earl Ray acted alone. Can I say though, I had no idea there was even a trial looking into the government's involvement in the assassination of Martin Luther King. When you read what Mrs. King presents I just shook my head. I can sadly believe it.
I also loved reading about her thoughts and opinions about other leaders she met like President Johnson, Carter, Nixon, Bush Sr., Kennedy, etc. I also felt for her for having to learn a lesson about publicly endorsing a presidential candidate at all due to some people taking it the wrong way and or being angry that she wasn't doing what they thought she should do.
And reading about the struggles to get the King Center up and running and the break that she had with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and her thoughts on Reverend Jesse Jackson.
I loved reading this book since it reminded me of listening to an older aunt that just wants to give you some hard lessons about life and how one must go on even when you don't know if in the end you are going to be able to get to where you need to go.
The book then ends a bit abruptly and then goes into afterwords written by close friends of Mrs. King such as Maya Angelou, her daughter, and others. Some of these I found to be quite moving. She definitely touched a lot of people and I can't imagine the strength she had to go on and keep doing what she believed while also raising her children and dealing with being the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King. She astutely points out that she and the widows of other famous civil rights leaders at the time (Betty Shabazz and Myrlie Evers-Williams) had to deal with so many people's opinions about what they should do and how to act.
I do have to say that reading this book showed me definitely how far the United States has come as a country that seemed apathetic to the concept of civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. However, it definitely shows me how much further we still have to go.