Now what makes this book unique is that it carries the sound of poem, spiritual, song as one might associate with this woman that stood and held the hand of a leader, two people together taking on a journey to place we can call today a Promised Land. A place where dreams are born into being.
It tells in a hushed calm about where she started, Coretta who loved to sing, and then like a brush might sweep across a canvas, it crosses us over, over into a kind of melodic telling of our national prayer. One that speaks of better days, all children at a table, concern, caring and mighty truths. A hope that all people might one day enjoy the prosperity and the chance as well as the reality of a fair opportunity to exist in a country that wrote creeds this way, creeds it often does not fulfill, not yet, not without struggle, strife and difficulty. Born in the darkness and beauty of a people that built a great nation. But a people that it kept down, who in turn kept it moving forward, in part because of woman like Coretta Scott.
The book is beautifully, largely, inspiring, and boldly illustrated with pictures that do remind me of the WPA and that so fits, that illustrated, painted style fits the telling of this poem. Nothing better would carry the feel of the artists than those of that time in the last century who raised the awareness of the necessity of the arts, the power of the arts, and the potential of the arts to speak in the ways of the heart path. Especially in a time of need. Like this time. Of the soul journey. As song does waft to form into our being the music of being heard.
I hate to tred my path alone, so I will share two personal responses to this book. The first involves my own mother. My mother became involved with the issues of treating others fairly and in my youth, in the 1960's onward she connected with the NAACP among other groups. At some point in West Virginia she shared a lunch or maybe two luncheons, as she is correcting me, with Mrs. King. Coming home the first time (and I would date this to the early 80's) I recall her talking to me of Mrs. King's courage, calm, solid determination, thoughtfulness in answering her. She could have left the national stage, raised her children, remarried, she could have and many would have been afraid, locked herself in fear, and wisely chosen to be outside the fray anymore, she had given enough. But to know her, or to meet her, is to meet the mettle of this couple. Neither stepped away. Both went where they were asked to go, asked to fight for justice. It is exactly what it is. The content of their character. And no one could miss that. My mother related this clearly, and handed me an autographed book that she treasured getting. For me. I recall her telling me that she felt Mrs. King like a rock. I believe this was how she might have functioned for her family. As the ground we walk and tread, knowing a path and a way. I read her auto-biography a powerful, inspiring work. It helped me to build my being. The one part of me that teaches in poverty areas and must constantly each day bring a sincere understanding to the work I do, and a worthwhile heart as well. This book too, honors that.
The second thing I might share is the reaction today to reading this to my students. It is not a long text. They were reverent, hush, calm. They recognized places like the Washington Monument. They connected through recent events at the Inaugural and our reading about President Obama and Dr. King. They felt value in the words. They understood notions of separate schools and how we are traveling on a road ever working to be more just. To improve upon the past. They saw the idea of "process" and "progress." And how do I know? They told me these things. They had an understanding that the spouse of a leader like Dr. King must be dedicated and indeed spun of cloth very valuable and precious.
So, I think, if you would give this to a classroom, to a library, to a school, to a student, you have done a very good thing, it will aid in the work we are really here to do.