Celebrate Boston’s Greatest Love Story: A Look Back at Coretta Scott King ’51, ’71 Hon. DM and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Historic First Meeting



Love is a powerful force, especially when shared by two individuals as driven in their joint mission of creating a better world as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King ’51, ’71 Hon. DM. The change-making couple were heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, but before they made history for their activism and social justice work, their journey together began in Boston. 


In 1951, Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott came to Boston in pursuit of higher education. An accomplished soprano, the musical excellence Coretta displayed while among the first wave of African American students to attend Antioch College earned her a scholarship to New England Conservatory, bringing the talented young singer north to study voice and music education. Meanwhile, Martin worked towards a Doctoral degree in systematic theology at Boston University while also preaching at the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury. 

In January of 1952, Mary Powell, an NEC classmate of Coretta's and colleague of Martin at Twelfth Baptist Church, saw the potential for a connection between her two friends and initiated the couple's first meeting. The pair met for a blind date on the steps of New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall, with bustling Huntington Avenue as the backdrop to their fated first hello. 

Although Dr. King was confident in his feelings for Coretta from the start, she was initially unsure. She noted his short stature and lack of facial hair—he had just shaved it off to pledge the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity at BU. Despite her tentative first impressions, the two began to date. They would attend concerts together at Symphony Hall, and Dr. King would come to NEC to watch Coretta perform at her recitals, among other Boston-area courtship outings.

CSK and MLK 2

As their love blossomed and grew more serious, Coretta made it clear that, along with a desire to continue her music career, she wanted to play a role in Martin and her shared mission for social justice. The two would become partners not just in life and love but in their work for civil rights and social change. 

Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr. were married in June 1953. The following year, Coretta graduated from New England Conservatory, and in 1955, Martin Luther King Jr. completed his PhD at Boston University. The two went on to become worldwide leaders and iconic figures of the Civil Rights Movement, though their historic journey will always retain its roots here in the city of Boston. 


Follow in Martin and Coretta’s Footsteps + Embrace Someone You Love

This Valentine’s Day, we invite you to visit the spot on the steps of Jordan Hall where Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King first met over 70 years ago and embrace someone you love, whether it be a romantic partner, close friend, family member, or pet. Come by to grab some candy and have your photo taken by a New England Conservatory staff member! 

"Life. Love. Legacy." A Musical Tribute to Coretta Scott King

On Monday, February 26, at 7:30 p.m. in NEC’s Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory invites the public to join a poignant musical tribute to Coretta Scott King's "Life. Love. Legacy." The 7th Annual Coretta Scott King Tribute Concert is a moving celebration co-curated by NEC’s Black Student Union and Castle of our Skins. This year's concert holds special significance as it marks the 70th anniversary of Coretta Scott King's graduation from NEC, where King studied music education and voice (’54, ’71 Hon. DM). The concert promises to be an immersive experience that honors a remarkable artist and activist. For more information about this concert and to RSVP for tickets, click here.