Alberta King, The Mother of Dr. Martin L. King Remembered After 45 years of her murder – Two Tragic Deaths

Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
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On June 30, 1974 (45 years ago) and also six years after Mrs. Alberta Christine “Mama King” Williams King lost her son Martin L. King Jr., to an assassin’s bullet, she was also killed by bullets as she played the organ at the historic, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia one Sunday morning along with Deacon Edward Boykin being killed and church member Jimmie Mitchell being wounded from this tragic moment. 

But, Mama King’s one and only daughter, Christine King Farris who is 91 years old and still looking good, still attending Ebenezer was there that fateful day and saw her mother murdered – a day she will never ever forget. She said it felt like she was watching a scene from a movie that day.

What a tragic day that was when a young 23 year-old black boy, Marcus Chenault stood up in church and started firing his guns. Mrs. King’s other son, Rev. Alfred Daniel “A.D.” King did not witness his mother’s death because he had already met his tragic death by {drowning accidentally} in a swimming pool in 1969; 15 months after his brother, Dr. King’s assassination. 

Mrs. Christine King Farris, author of several books, speaker, Spelman College Graduate and former Spelman College Instructor, honoring her mother Alberta King at Ebenezer Baptist Church – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Mrs. Naomi Ruth Barber King (Alfred Daniel); Pastor Martin L. King Sr. (Alberta); Mrs. Coretta Scott King (Martin); and Mrs. Christine King Farris (Isaac) (back row)

I was at Bethel Baptist Church in Alcoa (near Knoxville), Tennessee when my sister, Toni Sudderth, was ushering that day. She happen to answer the church’s telephone when a voice said the shocking words that Mrs. Alberta King has been shot and killed in Atlanta. What another tragic day for the King family and us!!!

On her 45th year of leaving us, an annual scholarship concert was held to give scholarships to students who will be attending various colleges. It was uplifting to see the young people walking proudly to receive their scholarships knowing this was a way of honoring the life and legacy of Mrs. Alberta King.

“The Children are our future” – The students who will benefit from Mrs. Alberta King 45th Annual Scholarship – Pastor Raphael G. Warnock, Ph.D. and Mrs. Alberta King’s grandchildren: Alveda King (Rev. Alfred Daniel “A.D.” and Naomi King); Angela Farris Watkins and Isaac Newton Farris, Jr. (Isaac Newton Farris Sr. & Christine King Farris)  – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Mrs. King was married to Martin L. King Sr., so the Kings have been a part of Ebenezer for many generations. Mrs. King’s service to God, her family and community have been astounding. She left her mark in so many ways and had to endure so much.

The King men, who all stood proud and tall –
Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. (Coretta); Isaac Newton Farris, Sr. (Christine); Rev. Alfred Daniel “A.D.”King (Naomi) and Rev. Martin L. King, Sr. (Alberta)

“Fast Forward” to June 30, 2019 and Mrs. Alberta King is being remembered in multiple ways.

Mrs. Alberta King had to be looking down on this special day with pride, joy and happiness –

I had the special privilege of being part of the services and events all day in her honor. For my morning worship, I attended my church, Antioch Baptist Church North, where Pastor Kenneth L. Alexander who presided after Rev. Dr. Cameron M. Alexander passed away which broke my heart deeply on December 30, 2018. He and Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., both civil rights leaders made huge and significant changes worldwide and we will never forget these two great men!!

Antioch Baptist Church North former Pastor for 49 years, the late Rev. Dr. Cameron Alexander who passed December 30, 2018

Our choir under the direction of Otis Byrd was invited to participate in a Gospel Concert with Ebenezer Baptist Church & The Martin Luther King, Sr. Choir, and Voices of Hope Mass Choir of Ray of Hope Christian Church praising the Lord through songs. The 45th Annual Scholarship Concert was done in memory of Mrs. Alberta “Mama King” King and the theme was “Open Your Mouth and Say Something”.

Ebenezer Baptist Church & The Martin Luther King, Sr. Choir – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

All the choirs were so energetic and spiritual filled they had us standing on our feet praising the Lord. It was a truly heartfelt day.

All the choirs joined together to sing “Total Praise” by Richard Smallwood – What a beautiful site and feeling to be part of this great rehearsal for our heavenly choir someday – Photo Courtesy of Lydia Raglin

After the service, we fellowshipped, had refreshments, and many of us stayed until 7:00 p.m.

Mrs. Alberta King’s daughter Mrs. Christine King Farris; Antioch Choir Member/Splash Magazine Photojournalist Renee Sudderth and Ebenezer Member, Dr. Tirazah Huff – Photo Courtesy of Tommie Jennings of Antioch

Mrs. Christine King Farris and her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

A beautiful cake in honor of Mrs. Alberta King who passed 45 years ago on June 30, 1974 – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

We were having so much fun with other church members. I mentioned to them that “I’m pretty sure Dr. Rev. King Jr., and Dr. Rev. Alexander are smiling big and proudly because their churches are still fellowshipping and having a good time in the name of Jesus!!! And I know Mrs. King is very happy too that we remembered her through love and commitment.

Dominique Perry, one of Ebenezer’s choir brilliant lead singer and Mike Fayoyin a member of Antioch. Our Pastors taught/teach us to fellowship with each other just like the portrait in the background representing Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., former Pastor of Ebenezer and current Pastor Raphael G. Warnock, Ph.D. – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Before the concert started, another event had taken place in which I was a part. It was because Mrs. Alberta King, the mother of Dr. King; Mrs. Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. King; and Ms. Christine still wears her beautiful hats, as well as, Mrs. Naomi King, the wife of Rev. Alfred Daniel “A.D.” King.

Ms. Toni Sudderth and Mrs. Naomi Ruth Barber King, (widow of Rev. Alfred Daniel “A.D.” King) a Civil Rights Activist who helped her husband with the Selma Campaign enacting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a special guest at the movie premiere “Selma” at the Atlantic Station in Atlanta, Georgia on January 11, 2015 – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

The Ebenezer Women Ministry had a “Hat Parade”.  I was asked to model Mrs. Carita Johnson’s hats known as “Custom Hats by Jean-Caree” and it was fun wearing hats that all the women at the Parade enjoyed looking at.

Model Renee Sudderth and Hat Designer Mrs. Carita Johnson of “Custom Hats by Jean-Caree” 404 740-0351 “A woman’s crown is her glory, however, her hat tells her story”!
Minister Breedlove testimony, she’s a “4th of July” Birthday lady and is a descedent of Madam C. J. Walker, the first black wealthiest businesswoman – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Mrs. Faye M. Gardner, The Winner of the “Hat Parade” – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

As the 45th Anniversary of Mrs. Alberta Christine Williams King came to a close, we realized that we will always remember Mrs. King for being there for her husband, her three children, grandchildren, church, choir, community, friends and even strangers.  This brings the question, “Who have you helped today and what will your legacy be?”

Mrs. Alberta King left a legacy so we women can continue to show unity, love, and represent being true ladies especially wearing these fancy hats – Courtesy of “Custom Hats by Jean-Caree”, the lady in red – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
The descendants of Mrs. Alberta King – her daughter Mrs. Christine King Farris and her granddaughter Angela Christine Farris Watkins – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Mrs. Alberta King’s son and daughter-in-law final resting place – Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., and Mrs. Coretta Scott King – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Please share to help keep Dr. King’s life and legacy (click on link) alive. Thank You!!!!

15 Comments

  1. LABERTHA WILLIAMS – July 8, 2019 – Via Email – Renee, glad to see you doing your thing! I want to be like you when I grow up! Living Life has become my theme for today!!!

  2. Renee I truly enjoyed this trip down memory lane of the contribution The King Family started and still very much alive today. Your writing skills opened our hearts and minds and put us in the building’s as each Memory unfolded. Keep up the great Editorial Work you are doing and your home town (Alcoa) Family is truly proud of you.

  3. CINDY MORGAN – July 8, 2019 – Via Email – This is a great article. Thank you!

  4. Renee,

    A job well done! I totally enjoyed the article and pictures!

  5. BARBARA – July 5, 2019 – Via Email – You did a great job, the article looks good.

  6. PHIL FREIGHTMAN – July 5, 2019 – Via Email – Renee, I had no idea you attended the event at Ebenezer last Sunday. I was there. My son Maximus actually was the first graduate called up to receive the scholarship. He’s in the middle on the group picture.

  7. WENDOLYN HARDING – July 5, 2019 – Via Email – Simply Beautiful Sister Renee! I enjoyed your story and appreciated it very much. *My small history connection: Christine King Farris & my oldest sister Pauline Murphy DeVaughn were college classmates at Spelman. Then, she was my freshman year professor at Spelman, where I celebrated 55 years in Reunion.

  8. BIVIAN M. PAIGE – July 5, 2019 – Via Email – Hey Renee, this was a great article and you also captured some wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  9. CAMMIE DEE – July 5, 2019 – Via Email – Enlightening- I was either not aware it had forgotten about that. Thanks for the knowledge.

  10. LOGAN HILL – July 5, 2019 – Via Email – Renee, great article. And educational too.

  11. Thanks very interesting, as a black woman, this article has uplifted me . We need to come to gather and celebrate all women that have went above for the cause of womanhood, keep up the legacy so the ones that come behind will be proud of being a a black woman

  12. JOE BEASLEY – July 4, 2019 – Via Email – Thank you very kindly!

  13. Your article was awesome. I Love it!
    I enjoyed the history of the King Family. I liked how you connected the old and current events together. His dream lives on. Thank you for a outstanding job.

  14. Great article, I had the pleasure of meeting Christina King Farris when I first came to Atlanta Georgia in 2017. She is a sophisticated lady, she will stop and take time out to speak with you, she’s so kind; I enjoyed spending time @ their church with the family.

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