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

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!!!!

35 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!!!

  10. LUCRETIA DURHAM – July 4, 2019 – VIA FACEBOOK – Looking gorgeous everyone! I love ? my hats too!!!

  11. LYDIA RAGLIN WILLIAMS – July 5, 2019 – Via Text – Awesome article Renee!! Thanks for the shout out as the “photographer”! Lol!! Kudos!

  12. MINISTER BREEDLOVE – July 4, 2019 – Via Text – PRAISE THE LORD HALLELUJAH…HOWWW ARE UUU. I PRAY ALL…IS WELL. I LOVED THE ARTICLE TOO.

  13. TIRAZAH HUFF – July 5, 2019 – Via Text – Outstanding article. I was truly blessed in reading the article. It was very informative and uplifting.

  14. CARITA JOHNSON – July 9, 2019 – Via Email – It was really nice, you put a lot of history in the article.

  15. DR. MICHAEL O. UEAL Jr. – July 12, 2019 – Via Email- Renee, I’m glad to see you still out there turning out great historical information.

  16. JENNIFER ALLEN – July 12, 2019 – Visa Email – Thank you very much for writing this article. I’m so proud of you!

  17. MATTHEW – July 12, 2019 – Via Email – The article was top notched and I loved how you illustrated it by being very informative. What a wonderful set up with a story, then pictures to follow. Also, Kudos to “Mama King” what all she had to go through.

  18. Such a great article. I have the pleasure of being a friend of Martin L King III and listening to his stories about the lives in his family that was taken and hear the pain in his voice but he ended with sharing with me he will not let hate seek to control his mind or heart.

    He shared with me more about God’s love and that was the only source of comfort that he could grab a hold to. Your article and pictures and overall subject matter will enlighten those that have forgotten about this or never knew about this.

    Thank you for your thorough due diligence and sharing some history that should never be forgotten. Many have paid with their lives for us to have many privileges that we take for granted today. I will never forget. God is still in control. May God continue to bless you and the work you do and the King Family. Respectfully Yours, Brian K. Patterson

    • Brian, I have not commented on others great COMMENTS but I had to comment on yours and I thank you for your COMMENT and everyone else who took the time to comment!!! Your comments were deep deep deep!!! Last year while I was in Memphis for Martin L. King Jr’s 50th Anniversary of being gunned down there, I never forgot what his daughter Bernice said. “No one can image what we all have gone through and we were kids when all these tragedies happen”. I also remember her questioning in her head about her Uncle A.D. King {{(accidental}} drowning???? The King family is deep deep but I will always honor them when I can. The Lord actually had me to write this because I have never finished a Splash Magazine article in 2 days and I was so so moved by all that happen on Mrs. Alberta King’s 45th Anniversary at Ebenezer Church!!!! ITS GOOD TO KNOW THE LORD!!!

  19. Outstanding job! May God continue to bless you and your ministries, gifts and talents. The history and knowledge you share is SO VERY important and needed. Thank you for walking so beautifully on the path of taking us down memory lane and showing our generation and this new one; the opportunities to keep hope alive and the value of investing in our Youth. It is amazing to learn from you. We’re grateful for you and the wonderful forum of Splash Magazine.

  20. Great article! I was enlightened by your article and the history you shared about the King family. Mrs. King Farris looks absolutely fabulous. I love your work! Keep up the awesomeness!

  21. DR. PATRICIA BENNETT – July 16, 2019 – Via EMAIL – I read the article and it was much needed. I was a grad student at Atlanta Univ at the time. Back in the stacks studying. NJ family was worried that I might have been at Ebenezer that morning. The article is a great reminder of the hate that was in this country at that time and a lot still exists today. When you are blatantly murdered in broad daylight on a Sunday morning at the organ playing the Lord’s prayer there is nothing more evil than that!! I lived it. The millennial need to read your article. And yes, I remember the drowning of Rev A.D. King!!

  22. KATRINA LIGGIN-SHANNON – July 18, 2019 – Via TEXT – AWESOME HISTORICAL ARTICLE RENEE. I didn’t know that the Kings were plagued by so much tragedy. It’s good Martin L. King’s sister, Mrs. Christine Farris is still carrying the torch.

  23. This was a great article with pictures that perfectly reflect the history. Thank you for such an awesome story..

  24. TONI SUDDERTH – July 22, 2019 – Via Email – A good article, a lot of historical information and I do recall taking that Sunday morning phone call back in Tennessee.

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