Richard Nixon’s Secret Visit With Coretta Scott King

A secret kept for a half century about a controversial future president’s gift to the new widow of a fallen civil rights icon seems improbable, but Xernona Clayton was there and is now telling the story. The civil rights leader and King family friend says that she remembers everything about Richard Nixon’s visit with Coretta Scott King “as though it happened yesterday,” and now she is finally sharing the story. It was about 48 hours after Martin Luther King Jr. had been murdered on the evening of April 6 when the former vice president arrived at the modest King home in Atlanta in an unmarked car and with no press. Those were the conditions Clayton had established after Ralph McGill, the pioneering civil rights editor and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution, contacted her to say that Nixon wanted to pay his respects, stopping in Atlanta on his way to Key Biscayne, Florida, for the weekend.