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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Encore Presentation: Remembering Coretta Scott King

Aired February 12, 2006 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And now, a look back at the emotional tribute to a beloved civil rights leader, remembering Coretta Scott King.
It began last Saturday, a horse-drawn carriage take the body of Coretta Scott King through the streets of downtown Atlanta to the state capital. Hundreds crowded the streets and the sidewalks to catch a glimpse and say good-bye. At the Capitol Rotunda, families and friends, thousands of admirers, paid their respect as King's body lays in state.

Tuesday's funeral for the late civil rights leader saw entertainers, politicians, religious and civil rights leaders from around the country, all there to remember their dear friend.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have the opportunity to not introduce but to present our commander in chief, the one that God has given the responsibility to lead us, to guide us, as a nation, to take us into places and open up opportunity for us, and not us, but as America goes, so goes this world. So I want you to receive our president of the United States, the honorable George W. Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, all. To the King family, distinguished guests and fellow citizens, we gather in God's house, in God's presence, to honor God's servant, Coretta Scott King. Her journey was long, and only briefly with a hand to hold. But now she leans on ever-lasting arms.

I've come today to offer the sympathy of our entire nation, at the passing a woman who worked to make our nation whole. Americans knew her husband only as a young man. We knew Mrs. King and all the seasons of her life. And there was grace and beauty in every season. As a great movement of history took shape, her dignity was a daily rebuke to the pettiness and cruelty of segregation.

When she wore a veil at 40 years old, her dignity revealed the deepest trust in God and purposes. In decades of prominence, her dignity drew others to the unfinished work of justice. In all her years, Coretta Scott King showed that a person of conviction and strength could also be a beautiful soul. This kind and gentle woman became one of the most admired Americans of our time. She is rightly mourned. And she is deeply missed.

Some here today knew her as a girl and saw something very special long before a young preacher proposed. She once said, "before I was a King, I was a Scott." And the Scotts were strong and righteous and brave in the face of wrong. Coretta eventually took on the duties of a pastor's wife, and a calling that reached far beyond the doors of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. In that calling, Dr. King's family were subjected to vicious words, threatening calls in the night, and bombing of their house.

Coretta had every right to count the costs and step back from the struggle. But she decided her children needed more than a safe home. They needed an America that upheld their equality and wrote their rights into law.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE W. BUSH: And because this young mother and father were not intimidated, millions of children they would never meet are now living in a better, more welcoming country.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE W. BUSH: In the critical hours of the civil rights movement there were always men and women of conscience at the heart of the drama. They knew that old hatreds ran deep. They knew that nonviolence might be answered with violence. They knew that much established authority was against them. They also knew sheriffs and mayors and governors were not ultimately in control of events, that a greater authority was interested and very much in charge.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE W. BUSH: The God of Moses was not neutral about their captivity. The God of Isaiah and the prophets was still impatient with injustice. They knew the Son of God would never leave them or forsake them, but some had to leave before their time. Dr. King left behind a grieving widow and little children. Rarely has so much been asked of a pastor's wife and rarely has so much been taken away.

Years later, Mrs. King recalled "I would wake up in the morning, have my cry and go in to them. The children saw me going forward." Martin Luther, Jr. had preached that unmerited suffering could have redemptive power. Little did he know this great truth would be proven in the life of the person he loved the most. Others could cause her sorrow, but no one could make her bitter. By going forward with a strong and forgiving heart, Coretta Scott King not only secured her husband's legacy, she built her own.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE W. BUSH: Having loved a leader, she became a leader. When she spoke, Americans listened closely, because her voice carried the wisdom and goodness of a life well lived. In that life, Coretta Scott King knew danger. She knew injustice. She knew sudden and terrible grief. She also knew her Redeemer lives. She trusted in the name above every name. And today we trust that our Sister Coretta is on the other shore at peace, at rest, at home.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE W. BUSH: May God bless you. May God bless our country.

(APPLAUSE)

MAYOR SHIRLEY FRANKLIN, ATLANTA: My presence here today is the result of many things, and many people. Not the least of which are my mother, my family, and my political mentors, Andrew Young and the late Maynard Jackson. However, my presence here today, as mayor of the city of Atlanta, is equally a living witness and testimony to the voices of a freedom choir.

A chorus made up of Septima Clark, Alberta King, Bernice Scott, Daisy Bates, Ella Baker, Jean Young, Mary McLeod Bethune, Constance Martley, Marjory Peercain (ph), Bertha May Carter, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ethel May Matthews, Dorothy Bolton, Fanny Lou Hamer, and the newest member Coretta Scott King.

(APPLAUSE)

FRANKLIN: I am here because they live and I am here because they struggled.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: She played a leading role in a pivotal part in our nation's history. Now a new chapter as the world says good-bye to Coretta Scott King. Stay with CNN as we continue an hour-long look back at her funeral this week outside Atlanta, Georgia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Among those paying tribute to Mrs. King Tuesday, longtime friend and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Reverend Joseph Lowery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. JOSEPH LOWERY, CO-FOUNDER, PRES., EMERITUS, SCLC: What a family reunion. Rosa and Martin, reminiscing. They've just begun to talk. When Martin seemed not to listen, he started to walk. The wind had whispered in his ear, I believe somebody is almost here.

(APPLAUSE)

LOWERY: Excuse me, Rosa, Martin said, as he did depart, his soul's on fire. He just couldn't wait. His spirit leaped with joy as he moved toward the Pearly Gates. Glory, glory, hallelujah. After 40 years, almost 40 years, together at last, together at last, thank God Almighty, together at last.

(APPLAUSE)

LOWERY: Thank you, Coretta.

Didn't she carry her grief with dignity? Her growing influence with humility? She secured his seed, nurtured his nobility. She declared humanity's worth, and vented their vision, his and hers, for peace in all the earth. She opposed discrimination based on race. She frowned on homophobia, and gender bias, she rejected on its face.

(APPLAUSE)

LOWERY: She summoned the nations to study war no more. She embraced the wonders of her human family from shore to shore.

LOWERY: Excuse me, Maya.

(APPLAUSE)

LOWERY: She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war. She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar. We know, now, that there were no weapons of mass destruction over there --

(APPLAUSE)

LOWERY: But Coretta knew, and we know, that there are weapons of misdirection right down here.

(APPLAUSE)

LOWERY: Millions without health insurance, poverty abounds, for war, billions more, but no more for the poor.

(APPLAUSE)

LOWERY: Well, Coretta had harsh critics. Some no one could please. But she paid them no mind. She kept speaking for the least of these.

There, but as we get older, so I'm told, we listen in to heaven like the prophets of old. I heard Martin and Coretta say, do us a favor, Joe. Those four little children I spoke of in '63, they're fine adults now as all can see. They already know, but tell them again. We love them so dear. Assure them we'll always be near, their troubles to bless. And sanctify to them their deepest distress.

Tell them we believe in them as we know you do. We know their faith in God and their love for each other will see them through. Assure them at the end of the tunnel awaits God's light, and we're confident that they will always strive for the right. Tell them don't forget to remember that we're as near as their prayer. And never afar and we can rest in peace because they know who and whose they are.

(APPLAUSE) LOWERY: What a family reunion. Thank you, Lord. Just the other day, I thought I heard you say, Coretta, my child, come on home. You've earned your rest. Your body's weary. You've done your best. Her witness and character, always strong. Her spirit, a melody from heaven's song. Her beauty warm, like the rays of the sun. Good night, my sister, well done, well done.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Up next, former President Bush pays tribute to Coretta Scott King as our hour-long look back on her funeral continues on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back to our special coverage of the funeral of Coretta Scott King. Among the four U.S. presidents who spoke, President George H. W. Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Bishop Long, I come from a rather conservative Episcopal parish. I've never seen anything like this in my life.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH: But then we didn't have Coretta in our parish in Houston, Texas. And it's absolutely wonderful. The music itself, Sister Fuaz (ph) and Miss Abernathy, it's just spectacular and wonderful.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH: I would like to -- and I hope he doesn't mind because he's a legend here. I would like to say something to my friend Joe Lowery. Hey, look, they used to send this guy to Washington. I kept score in the Oval Office desk. Lowery, 21. Bush, three. It wasn't a fair fight.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH: The advice, though, Joe. The advice I'd give this guy is, Maya has nothing to worry about. Don't give up your day job. Keep preaching. Now, there's a lot to celebrate in this day. Coretta lived a purposeful life. And how I loved visiting with her family just before this, marked by strife and turmoil, righteousness. And she endured the saddest of human cruelties with greatest of grace. And by her steadfast determination, she helped to grind away the falsehoods and ignorance that had too long been used to divide our society.

Our world is a kinder and gentler place because of Coretta Scott King. And together with her husband, their unyielding moral force changed the course of history. Within 60 days of receiving the Nobel peace prize, Dr. King once again found himself sitting in a Selma jail. Think about that. He'd been the toast of the world, repeatedly called to the White House.

But to him it was a fundamental human principle, not fame or power that mattered the most. And every hour he sat in that cell, of course, Coretta suffered as well. Every step he and his followers subsequently made from Selma to the state house -- this may be your lucky day. I've lost a page.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH: Hey, look!

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH: Come on, guys.

(APPLAUSE)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH: I respected Coretta. Liked her husband, because they rejected race baiting by those who oppose, as well as those who supported the civil rights movement. And there was always a dignity, a wonderful grace, about Coretta. The way she carried herself. And, for this, she is mourned and eternally respected by millions, not only across America but, as we've heard today, from South Africa, elsewhere across the entire world.

A few weeks ago, I had an uplifting experience that I hope some of the young people here have shared. I saw a special screening of "The Glory Road" together with members of the Houston Rockets and all the basketball teams around Houston, high school kids, college kids. And the film and its powerful message made a profound impact on this young group. Particularly on the young players, but also on all the young kids that were there.

It only reminded us how far our society has come. And these kids didn't understand it. They didn't know what discrimination was until some of them seen this movie "Glory Road." It also reminds us how in countless ways, large and small, we see the fruits of labors, leaders like Martin and Coretta King, all around.

Lord knows, Coretta lead the way, stared down hate mongers, showed us how to reach the day -- to use his expression -- man is man. And that burden is now lifted and Coretta has been called home to the Father. We give thanks for her good life, a life that mattered, a life well lived. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Our hour-long look at the funeral for Coretta Scott King continues with words of praise from former President Bill Clinton and daughter Bernice King who delivered her mother's eulogy.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back to our special presentation, highlights from the funeral of Coretta Scott King. Here now is former President Bill Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want us to forget that there's a woman in there, not a symbol -- not a symbol -- a real woman who lived and breathed and got angry and got hurt and had dreams and disappointments. And I don't want us to forget that.

You know, I'm sitting here thinking, I wish I knew what her kids were thinking about now. I wonder if they were thinking about what I was thinking about at my mother's funeral. Said all this grand stuff.

I wonder if they're thinking about when she used to read books to them, or when she told them Bible stories, or what she said to them when their daddy got killed.

We're here to honor a person.

Fifty-four years ago, her about-to-be husband said that he was looking for a woman with character, intelligence, personality and beauty, and she sure fit the bill.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And I have to say, when she was over 75, I thought she still fit the bill pretty good with all those categories.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: But I think that's important.

This is a woman, as well as a symbol, as well as the embodiment of her husband's legacy and the developer of her own.

The second point I want to make is the most important day in her life for everyone of us here at this moment in this church except when she embraced her faith, the next most important day was April 5, 1968, the day after her husband was killed. She had to decide, "What am I going to do with the rest of my life?"

We would have all forgiven her, even honored her if she said, "I have stumbled on enough stony roads. I have been beaten by enough bitter rods. I have endured enough dangers, toils and snares. I'm going home and raising my kids. I wish you all well."

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: None of us, nobody could have condemned that decision. But instead, she went to Memphis -- the scene of the worst nightmare of her life -- and led that march for those poor hard-working garbage workers that her husband...

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Now, that's the most important thing for us.

Because what really matters if you believe all this stuff we've been saying is what are we going to do with the rest of our lives?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: So her children, they know they've got to carry the legacy of their father and their mother now. We all clap for that; they've got to go home and live with it. That's a terrible burden.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: That is a terrible burden. You should pray for them and support them and help them. That is a burden to bear. It's a lot harder to be them than it was for us to be us growing up. Don't you think it wasn't. It may have been a glory, it may have been wonderful, but it's not easy.

So what will happen to the legacy of Martin Luther King and Coretta King? Will it continue to stand for peace and nonviolence and anti-poverty and civil rights and human rights?

What will be the meaning of the King holiday every year?

And even more important, Atlanta, what's your responsibility for the future of the King Center?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: What are you going to do to make sure that this thing goes on?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: I read in the newspaper today, I read in the newspaper coming down here that there's more rich black folks in this county than any one in America except Montgomery County, Maryland.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: What are we going to do?

This is the first day of the rest of our lives. And we haven't finished our long journey home.

The one thing I always admired about Dr. King and about Coretta when I got to know her, especially, is how they embraced causes that were almost surely lost right alongside causes that they knew if they worked at hard enough, they could actually win.

They understood that the difficulty of success does not relieve one of the obligation to try. So all of us have to remember that.

What are we going to do with the rest of our lives? You want to treat our friend Coretta like a role model? Then model her behavior.

And you know we're always going to have our political differences. We're always going to have things we can do.

And this has been, I must say, a brilliantly executed and enormously both moving and entertaining moment.

But we're in the house of the Lord.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And most of us are too afraid to live the lives we ought to live because we have forgotten the promise that was made to Martin Luther King, to Coretta Scott King and to all of us, most beautifully for me stated in Isaiah.

"Fear not, I have redeemed thee."

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: "I have called thee by thy name. Thou art mine."

We don't have to be afraid. We can follow in her steps. We can honor Dr. King's sacrifice. We can help his children fulfill their legacy.

Everybody who believes that the promise of America is for every American, everybody who believes that all people in the world are caught up in what he so eloquently called the inescapable web of mutuality, everyone of us in a way are all the children of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King. And I for one am grateful for her life and her friendship.

Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Coretta Scott King's daughter Bernice eulogized her mother at Tuesday's funeral. Bernice King is an elder at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, where the funeral was held. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERNICE KING, CORETTA SCOTT KING'S DAUGHTER: One thing I've learned in these last five months after my mother's stroke is the value of moments. Because in many ways, we take for granted each and every hour of the day and each and every moment that God gives us with anybody and, in particular, our family.

We kind of say hello casually. We say good-bye casually. We say see you later casually. We get in arguments and slam doors and walk away, not realizing the value of every moment that we have with a person, because it is in those moments that an exchange takes place in such a way that when that person transitions into the next dimension of eternal life, that we can rest in the peace and in the assurance that I deposited everything that God would have me to deposit in their life and they did the same.

And so when I come to the homegoing ceremony or the celebration, I'm just here to celebrate. I don't have to say a word. I'm just here to celebrate. So let everything right now that have breath ye praise the Lord for the life of Coretta Scott King.

Stalwart, a beacon of hope, a king in her own right, a woman of authority, a woman of power, a woman of grace, a woman of essence, a woman of strength, a woman of dignity -- we praise the Lord for Coretta Scott King and her example of life.

God's been waiting on us a long time to get it together. And if we miss this one, we're going to miss one of the greatest opportunities to demonstrate God in the earth. We've got to cease from our division divisions and we got to cease from our politicking. We got to cease from the exploitation and the insecurities, because God is not looking for another Martin Luther King or Coretta Scott King.

The old has passed away. There is a new order that is emerging. And in this new birth, God is going to raise up a remnant of people who are determined to position themselves that the kingdoms of this world might become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Savior, our Savior. It's time for us to birth out righteousness, equality, true justice, true freedom, true holiness.

Which, at the end of the day, when you think about holy, it just simply means what she demonstrated and lived every day of her life is why she could build, as a woman, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, against the wishes of so many men who told her to stay at home and raise her children. But she was a woman who built a multimillion-dollar facility ...

(APPLAUSE)

KING: ... that would be an epicenter for this kingdom of God nonviolence. And she did it because she was holy. She had -- holy meant having our lives yielded to God. She didn't do it for fame. She didn't do it for fortune. She did it because it was the will of God and she yielded to him. And that's why she could lay aside her music career. That's why she could push back her first desires. And if we would just begin to do that, this whole world would be transformed, as my father said, "into an oasis of freedom and justice."

Thank you, mother for your incredible example of Christ-like love and obedience. We're gonna miss you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: The words of poet Maya Angelou when our special coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: We've been paying tribute this hour to Coretta Scott King. Her funeral was held Tuesday just outside Atlanta. We leave you with words of author, poet and activist, Maya Angelou.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAYA ANGELOU, POET: I stand here today for her family, which is my family, and for my family and all the other families in the world who would want to be here but could not be here. I have beside me up here millions of people who are living and standing straight and erect and knowing something about dignity without being cold and aloof, knowing something about being contained without being unapproachable. People who have learned something from Coretta Scott King.

I stand here for Eleanor Traylor and for Harry Belafonte. And I stand here for Winnie Mandela. I stand here for women and men who loved her.

On those late nights when Coretta and I would talk, I would make her laugh. And she said that Martin King used to tell her, "You don't laugh enough." And there's a recent book out about sisters in which she spoke about her blood sister, but at the end of her essay, she said, "I do have a chosen sister, Maya Angelou, who makes me laugh even when I don't want to."

And it's true. I told her some jokes only for -- no mixed company. Many times on those late evenings, she would say to me, "Sister, it shouldn't be an either or, should it? Peace and justice should belong to all people everywhere all the time, isn't that right?"

And I said then and I say now, "Coretta Scott King, you are absolutely right. I do believe that peace and justice should belong to every person everywhere all the time. And those of us who gather here, principalities, presidents, senators, those of us who run great companies, who know something about being parents, who know something about being preachers and teachers, those of us, we owe something from this minute on so that this gathering is not just another footnote on the pages of history.

(APPLAUSE)

ANGELOU: We owe something.

I pledge to you, my sister, I will never cease. I mean to say, I want to see a better world. I mean to say, I want to see some peace somewhere. I mean to say, I want to see some honesty, some fair play.

I want to see kindness and justice. This is what I want to see, and I want to see it through my eyes and through your eyes, Coretta Scott King.

(SINGING)

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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