Mourning Mrs. King


ALA mourns loss of civil rights pioneer Coretta Scott King

American Library Association, January 31, 2006


CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) wishes to express its deepest condolences to the family of civil rights activist Coretta Scott King.

"The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the American Library Association was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Mrs. King," said Fran Ware, chair, Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee. "For 36 years, she was an inspiration and positive influence on our committee. Her dedication to the Dream of her beloved husband Martin and the rights of suppressed people everywhere served as a model for our committee, which works to acknowledge and honor African American authors and illustrators of children's books.

"Today is both our 'Day Of Tears' as we hang our heads low in sorrow, and our 'Day of Jubilee,' as we celebrate the legacy of our beloved Mrs. King. May she rest in peace."

Since the award's inception in 1969, more than 175 titles have been honored with the Coretta Scott King Award. The award honors African American authors and illustrators whose books promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and the realization of the American dream. Educators, librarians and parents across the nation look to Coretta Scott King Award winners for quality literature to share with children.

To learn more about the award and winning titles, please visit

King awards honor children's books by African Americans

Chicago Sun Times, February 1, 2006


In 1970, no African-American author or illustrator had won a Newbery or Caldecott Award. So two librarians founded the Coretta Scott King Book Awards to honor African-American children's writers and artists, and point parents, teachers and librarians toward the best in Afrocentric children's literature.

King, widow of slain civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., died Tuesday at age 78.

"These books represent the values we know children need to be well-equipped in the world as adults, values like love and truth and peace and sharing and happiness and honesty," said Fran Ware, chairman of the Coretta Scott King Book Award Committee. The committee is part of the Chicago-based American Library Association.

While King did not help pick the books, she occasionally attended the awards ceremony at the King Center in Atlanta, most recently in 2002.

"A book can put a child on the right course," Ware said. "They clutch it to their heart and head into the future and make it. That's what these books are for."

For a complete list of winners, go to

Leslie Baldacci

Appreciation: Coretta Scott King supported children's literature

The Dallas Morning News, 07:32 AM CST on Wednesday, February 1, 2006


Coretta Scott King, the late widow of civil-rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., will be remembered as a woman of self-sacrifice who maintained the legacy of her husband's dreams of peace and equality. But she'll also be remembered for her contribution to the arts, specifically to children's books.

Starting in 1970, she lent her name to the Coretta Scott King Book Award, which annually honors African-American authors and illustrators of kids' books. She was also a key force behind My Friend Martin, a 1999 kids video that aimed to communicate the values of Dr. King.

"When you teach young people love and values and how to be peaceful and respectful in your disagreements, that people have more in common than they are different, I think they will learn to like people and respect people who are different from themselves," Ms. King told The Dallas Morning News in 1999.

"The main thing is that if we can get young people to give that unconditional love that we strive for, it makes us more fulfilled and it enables you to make a contribution to society that will advance the cause of humanity."

The same can be said for the book award, one of the leading honors for children's authors, along with the Newbery and Caldecott medals.

One of the award's co-founders, the late Glyndon Greer, "knew there was a void in locating and recognizing African-American illustrators and authors," says Fran Ware, chair of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee. "So she asked Coretta if she could use her name.

"Children who are fumbling and lost can go to these books and find values of peace and sharing and in many cases can get back on course," Ms. Ware says. "I can't tell you how many librarians and educators have used these books and are so grateful."

The first Coretta Scott King Award was presented in 1970 to Lillie Patterson, author of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Man of Peace. Since then, winners have included Duey's Tale by Pearl Bailey ('76), Escape to Freedom: A Play About Young Frederick Douglass by Ossie Davis ('79), The Road to Memphis by Mildred D. Taylor ('91) and this year's winner, Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue by Julius Lester.

Recently, the award was expanded to include illustrators and new authors. This year illustrator Bryan Collier was honored for Rosa, which was written by Nikki Giovanni. And the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for a new African-American author went to Jaime Adoff for Jimi & Me.

"A person of Martin's nobility, who is willing to set down his life for the greater good, will not come along again in a long time," Ms. King told The News in 1999. "It requires someone who is totally self-effacing. And yet I believe Martin's spirit is very much alive in many places and individuals and all over the world, and that's what keeps me going. That's what keeps me going."


Staff writer Nancy Churnin contributed to this report.