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Alfred Daniel Williams King (July 30, 1930 – July 21, 1969), known as A. D. King, was the younger brother of American civil rights movement leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Like his older brother, A. D. King was a Baptist minister and civil rights activist.

Contents

Biography

Alfred King was born July 30, 1930 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the son of Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King, and was the youngest of their three children (including Willie Christine, born September 11, 1927, and Martin Luther King, Jr., born January 15, 1929). In contrast to his peacemaking brother, Martin, A. D. was, according to his father, “a little rough at times” and “let his toughness build a reputation throughout our neighborhood” (King, Sr.,126). Less interested in academics than his siblings, A. D. started a family of his own while still a teenager. He was married on 17 June 1950, to Naomi Ruth Barber (born 1932), with whom he had five children.

Although as a youth he strongly resisted his father’s ministerial urgings, King eventually began assisting his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. In 1959, King graduated from Morehouse College, and that same year he left Ebenezer to become pastor of Mount Vernon First Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia.

Civil Rights activism

Alfred King was arrested with King, Jr. and 70 others while participating in an October, 1960 lunch counter sit-in in Atlanta. In 1963, A.D. King became a leader of the Birmingham campaign while pastoring at First Baptist Church of Ensley in Birmingham, Alabama. On 11 May 1963, King’s house was bombed. In August, after a bomb exploded at the home of a prominent black lawyer in downtown Birmingham, outraged citizens poured into the city streets intent on revenge. As rocks were thrown at gathering policemen and the situation escalated. A. D. King climbed on top of a parked car and shouted to the rioters in an attempt to quell their fury: “My friends, we have had enough problems tonight. If you’re going to kill someone, then kill me. . . Stand up for your rights, but with nonviolence.” (“Bomb Hits Home in Birmingham”)

Like his brother, A.D. was a staunch believer in the importance of maintaining nonviolence in direct action campaigns. However, unlike his brother, A.D. was able to remain mostly outside of the media’s spotlight. As one of his associates said, “Not being in the limelight never seemed to affect him but because he stayed in the background, many people never knew that he was deeply involved, too” (Johnson, “A Rights Activist”).

Later life

In 1965, King moved to Louisville, Kentucky where he became pastor at Zion Baptist Church. While there, King continued to fight for civil rights and was successful in a 1968 campaign for an open-housing ordinance. After his brother's assassination in April 1968, there was speculation that A.D. might become president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). A.D., however, made no effort to assume his brother’s role, although he did continue to be active in the Poor People's Campaign and in other work on behalf of SCLC.

Following the death of Martin, A.D. King returned to Ebenezer Baptist Church and, in September 1968, was installed as co-pastor. He was praised by his father as “an able preacher, a concerned, loving pastor.”

A.D. King was found dead in the pool at his home on July 21, 1969, at the age of 38. The cause of his death was listed as a suicide by drowning. [1][2][3][4][5]

References

  1. ^ "The Rev. A. D. Williams King". Time. 1969-08-01. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,901197,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  2. ^ "Bomb Hits Home in Birmingham". New York Times. 1963-08-01. 
  3. ^ "Introduction in Papers". Introduction in Papers 1:26; 43.. 
  4. ^ "A Rights Activist". Thomas A. Johnson, New York Times. 1969-07-22. 
  5. ^ "Daddy King". King, Sr., with Riley. 1980. 
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