Mrs. Alberta King, mother of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., is killed by a Black man.
1974 (Jun 30)
A young Black man interrupted the worship services at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta with gunfire, killing church deacon Edward Boykin and Alberta King, mother of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Another worshipper, Mrs. Jimmie Mitchel, was wounded. The alleged gunman, identified as Marcus Chenault of Dayton, Ohio, was subdued by other worshippers, including Derek King, grandson of the slain woman. Chenault told Atlanta police that he had orders from "his god” to go to Atlanta and kill the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., father of the Nobel Prize-winning civil rights leader. Instead, he allegedly fired upon Mrs. King and others as the sixty-nine-year-old matriarch of the King family played “The Lord's Prayer” on a church organ. The accused slayer was described as an Ohio State University dropout who became deeply involved in a small religious cult that claimed that Blacks were descendants of the original Jews. Chenault was said to have taken the name “Servant Jacob” and discarded his original name. The cult reportedly believed that Black Christian ministers deceived Black Americans and hence were the cause of many of the social and economic woes of Blacks. Mrs. Alberta Williams King was the daughter of the Reverend Adam Daniel Williams, one of the founders of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Her husband, a powerful religious and political figure in Atlanta for more than twenty-five years, succeeded Williams as pastor of the church. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was serving as co-pastor of the church at the time of his assassination in April 1968. Another son, the Reverend A. D. Williams King, drowned in 1969. Reacting to the tragedy, Atlanta Mayor Maynard H. Jackson compared the deaths of the King family to those of the family of the late President John F. Kennedy, stating “Never have I seen a family suffer so much for so long and yet give such brilliant leadership.”