King, Coretta Scott, 1927–2006, American civil-rights leader, b. Heiberger, Ala.; the wife (1953–68) of Martin Luther King, Jr. After her husband's assassination, she carried on his civil-rights work. She also campaigned to have his birthday commemorated as a national holiday, which was first observed in 1986, and establihsed the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta. In the late 1990s she and other family members supported the unsuccessful efforts of James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of her husband, to win a new trial, believing that Martin Luther King was the victim of a conspiracy that may have included members of the U.S. government. In 1999 she and her family brought and won a wrongful death suit against Loyd Jowers, who claimed to have arranged King's assassination for a Mafia figure. Many experts, however, were not convinced by the evidence presented during the trial. She wrote My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr. (1969).
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