Local Reverend Recalls King - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/07/06

Local Reverend Recalls King

Coretta Scott King meant so much to so many. Many people say she inspired them, although few actually had the honor of meeting her. We found one Savannahian who knew her very well.

Rev. Bennie Mitchell at Connor's Temple Baptist Church knew her for more than 30 years and helped her preserve her husband's memory.

He first met Coretta Scott King a few years after her husband was killed. "I met Sister King through her father-in-law, Dr. King," he said.

In the early 1970s, Rev. Mitchell was going to seminary at Moorehouse College in Atlanta. "She always found the time to talk to us and encourage us in our seminaries," he recalled.

After college, Rev. Mitchell took over the reigns at Connor Temple Baptist Church. He founded Martin Luther King Day in Savannah, and helped make it a national holiday, often looking to Mrs. King for guidance.

"Her whole drive was to make sure Martin's memory would always be remembered and she always drove about nonviolence," Rev. Mitchell said.

But she didn't preach from the pulpits. She had her own way. "Being reserved but not being aloof. I just liked her demeanor, her quiet way, but yet strength."

Strength. That's what he remembers most about her. He knows that strength will live on. "Death always comes as a surprise and we knew then that the first lady of the civil rights movement was going home to have a family reunion not only with her husband, but Rosa Parks and others who have gone on," said Rev. Mitchell.

Coretta Scott King visited Savannah in 1993. She spoke at a March on Washington rally at Connor Temple. Rev. Mitchell last saw her before her stoke, and met with her family after she passed away last Thursday.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

 

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