Rev. A. D. King 50th Memorial Service – A King Family Civil Rights Tradition

A.D. King Poster, Photo: Renee Sudderth

On July 21, 1969, the United States of America was celebrating the historical steps of Man walking on the moon the previous day. Back in Atlanta, the King family was still feeling the devastating pain of the loss of Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., to an assassin’s bullet on April 4, 1968, at age 39. Tragedy struck again when his brother, Rev. Alfred Daniel “A. D.” Williams King was discovered dead in his swimming pool which they ruled an accidental drowning at age 38, nine days short of his 39th birthday. Although the rules of medical examination states that when a person drowns, they have water in their lungs but Rev. A. D. King did not. Even now, the timing of his death, 15 months after his brother’s death still remains a deep dark mystery.

We Shall Never Forget Rev. A. D. King – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
The video of the program may be viewed on A D King Foundation Facebook Site

I was fortunate to attend Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr.’s 50th Commemorative Memorial Service April 2018 in Memphis; his mother Mrs. Alberta King’s 45th Commemorative Memorial Service on June 30, 2019, in Atlanta; attended her other son, Rev. A. D. King’s 50th Commemorative Memorial Service on July 21, 2019, in Atlanta at the Historic, Ebenezer Baptist Church; and in February 2006, I attended Mrs. Coretta Scott King’s funeral. Given all that the King family has done and is still doing for mankind, I wholeheartedly give them my full honorable respect. They have stood the test of time when life was very difficult, but they kept pressing forward to have a better life, not only for themselves but for the entire human race.

Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., Mrs. Coretta Scott King and Rev. A. D. King marching, protesting, communicating all for the Civil Right Movement and etc. Photo Courtesy of A D King Foundation, Inc.,

On July 21, 2019, at the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church Sanctuary where Rev. A. D. King, his father Rev. Martin L. King Sr., and brother, Rev. Dr. Martin King, Jr., once held office as Pastor or Assistant Pastor, I was very impressed to learn more about Rev. A. D. King.

Rev. Alfred “A. D.” Daniel King; Rev. Martin L. King, Sr., and Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., all made a difference in this lifetime – Photo Courtesy of A D King Foundation, Inc.

Many people thought he lived a quiet life but that was not the case. He was a Baptist minister, Civil Rights Activist with many significant achievements. But overall, he was the love of Mrs. Naomi Ruth Barber King’s life.  They fell in love and married while they were still teenagers.

Ms. Naomi Ruth Barber’s beauty inside and out caught the eye of Alfred Daniel “A. D.” King -Photo Courtesy of A D King Foundation, Inc
Mr. Alfred Daniel “A. D.” and Mrs. Naomi Ruth Barber King who married June 17, 1950 – Photo Courtesy of AD King Foundation, Inc.

Martin, his brother, officiated the marriage at their home church, Ebenezer. After they were joined together as one, they became parents to their five children; Alveda, Alfred II (deceased), Derek, Darlene (deceased), and Vernon King (deceased). His parents were Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and Mrs. Alberta Williams King (brutally murdered during church service), and his siblings were Martin L. King Jr. and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris, who celebrated 92 years of life last week on September 11, 2019, by riding the Ferris Wheel at Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta and a backyard bash at Willie Watkin’s beautiful home.

Angela Farris Watkins and mother, Mrs. Christine King Farris remembering their uncle/brother A. D. King on his 50th Memorial Service Day – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Alveda King (daughter of Rev. A.D. King and Naomi King) and Angela Farris Watkins (daughter of Isaac Newton Farris Sr., and Christine King Farris) – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

A. D. King never wanted to become a pastor, but he eventually pastored four churches including the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, after graduating from Morehouse College.  He was very much involved in the Civil Rights Movement and stressed the importance of non-violence just like his brother Martin when he participated in many lunch-counter sit-ins, marches including the famous “March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in 1963, and the march and bus strike movement when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat in Alabama and, as a result, she was arrested.

Those who were humiliated, beaten, mistreated and killed shall never be forgotten because of their sacrifices of the many long dark roads trotted – Photo Courtesy of A D King Foundation, Inc

A. D. King was a victim of his home being bombed with his family inside.

Rev. A.D. and Naomi King shocked at the bombing of their home by three members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) who were police officers – Photo Courtesy of A D King Foundation, Inc.

By the grace of God, their lives were spared just like Martin and his family were spared when their house was also bombed.  People felt Rev. A. D. house bombing was a result of him becoming a leader of the Birmingham Campaign while pastoring in Alabama. He led the Open Housing Ordinance Campaign in Louisville, Kentucky and was part of the Poor People’s Campaign. As a result, his Zion Baptist Church office in Louisville was bombed.

It was amazing when Rev. A. D. King, loving widow, Mrs. Naomi took the podium at his 50th Commemorative Memorial Service.

Mrs. Naomi King at the podium showing her love for her one and only true love Rev. A. D. King – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

She was aware that the whole world knew of Martin, but she said it so truthfully, “They were brothers together in the struggle.”

Otis Byrd, Choir Director of Antioch Baptist Church North, (Pastor Kenneth L. Alexander), receives a “standing ovation” for his rendition of a song so true for both the King brothers “If I Can Help Somebody” – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Rev. and Mrs. A. D. King made history together in many ways. They worked diligently throughout the 1965 “Campaign to Vote” in Selma that enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Rev. Derek King, son of the late Rev. A.D. King and Mrs. Naomi King said his father loved God first, had a great sense of humor, loved to cook and overall “He IS Dad and not WAS Dad” – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Isaac Ferris, Jr., son of Isaac Newton Farris, Jr. and Christine King Ferris said his uncle A. D. was a great man who came from a place of greatness and he introduced him to God here at Ebenezer – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

When the “$66.8 million gross” movie, Selma was premiered here in Atlanta on November 11, 2014, she was present and supporting the movie and reliving those days being on the front line for injustice. I had the special privilege of discussing how she and her husband, Rev. A. D. King made significant impacts in history and the present.

At Selma’s movie premier in Nov 2014 – Jordan Rice, actress who portrayed one the “16th Street Baptist Church Birmingham, Alabama Bombing (Sept 15, 1963) little girl; Mrs. Naomi King who actual lived the movie; and Renee Sudderth, Splash Magazine Photojournalist – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Dr. Joseph Beasley, Civil/Human Rights Activist who walked side by side with the King brothers, is still making his mark in history and I also have great respect for him.

Dr. Babs Onabanjo, Mrs. Naomi King and Mr. Joseph Beasley who are carrying on the Rev. A.D. King Foundation Legacy – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

A fellow member at my church, Antioch Baptist Church North (Pastor Kenneth Alexander) was also present at Rev. A.D. King’s 50th Memorial Service; Dr. Beasley shared this special message with me:  

My memories of Rev. A. D. King are vicarious, yet compelling, seen through the eyes of one of his closest friends, and my Pastor, Rev. Cameron M. Alexander who passed December 30, 2018. He often talked about their drive to Washington, D. C., for the 1963 historic “March On Washington.” His brother, Martin’s, “I Have A Dream” address changed the course of World History! 

These young leaders, who encountered racism on their journey from Atlanta to the “Nation’s Capital” are etched in the landscape of time! A.D., murdered, just 15 months after Martin, is now emerging as the martyr, equal in commitment to that of his brother. While his friend, Cameron lived a long and distinguished life, changing the course of history for African American’s was envisioned by Martin and A. D.”

Before this amazing, honorable 50th Memorial Service for her husband, was over, Mrs. Naomi shared with me her personal thoughts, “I want the whole wide world to remember my husband, Rev. A. D. Williams King for his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement as an icon in his own right, who made an immense difference in Atlanta, Birmingham, Selma, Louisville, Memphis, Washington D.C., Saint Augustine, etc. and sacrificed his life for the movement, not just the brother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. And for me, my love of God, children all over the world, the empowerment and development of mankind in all is ramifications, especially children. I will continue to serve humanity until I take my last breath so help me God”.

And to bring a big smile to Mrs Naomi King, she will be awarded the GUBA Humanitarian Award in New York, New York on September 26, 2019 acknowledging her trailblazing journey.

Civil Rights Icons – Dr. Christine King Farris, sister of Rev. A.D. King; Mrs. Naomi King, widow of Rev. A. D. King – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

“Through It All”, Reverend Dr. Alfred Daniel “A.D.” Williams King will always be remembered and Dr. Babs Onabanjo, a Professor at Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Chair of the Faculty Senate, Former Vice President  Southern Christian Leadership Conference–Henry County (Georgia), Filmmaker and the President & CEO of A.D. King Foundation has given his complete devotion in keeping his legacy alive through this foundation which will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary on November 16, 2019, 7:00 pm at Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Conference Center. 

Rev. King’s widow, Mrs. Naomi will be on hand smiling gracefully with her decorative butterflies seeing her husband’s foundation reaches this 10-year milestone. Everyone is welcome because of the memorable, treacherous journey Reverend Alfred Daniel “A. D.” King made in history for the movement, equity, freedom and justice for all. Come meet and celebrate with Dr. Christine King-Farris who will be honored with “The Living Legend, Lifetime Achievement and Matriarch of the King Family Award” – the highest award to be granted by A D King Foundation.

Dr. Babs Onabanjo, Dr. Christine King Farris, Mrs. Naomi King and Renee Sudderth (Splash Magazine Photojournalist) who are carrying on the Rev. A.D. King Foundation Legacy – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

For more information about the foundation visit www.adkingfoundation.com , www.adkingfoundation.ning.comwww.facebook.com/Drbabs.onabanjo , www.youtube.com/Babsonabanjo

Please check these Splash Magazine Worldwide articles:

Martin Luther King- 50 Years Later

Alberta King, The Mother of Dr. Martin L. King Remembered 

24 Comments

  1. Renee, you have truly outdone yourself on this mesmerizing article. You should be designated as the Historian and photojournalist for the King Legacy. Although many of us lived during these trying times; there is so much information that we do not know. It is critical that these details be documented and cemented in history for the millennials and those who do not remember or do not know their history. As a physician, I know that me and others stand on the shoulders of these martyrs and foot soldiers. Without them, we would not be doctors, lawyers engineers, etc. They took the pain so that we would have the “gain.” These lovely women, who stood beside them and supported them should also never be forgotten. They walked the picket lines and also maintained the families and the homes. They tended to their wounds and kept their children calm and safe. This generation is passing but these memories and life lessons as long as they are in print, shall serve as the supporting foot prints for their life journeys. Who today is willing to take a bomb, bullet or knife to the chest for the sake of their people…..perhaps no one? In death, Martin, AD, Alberta King, Coretta, and Mrs. Abernathy and Ralph are still “bigger than life.” Renee you are amazing. Share this article with the world.

  2. DANA JORDAN – Sept 18, 2019 – VIA EMAIL – Renee! What a pleasant surprise to find this in my inbox this morning? Thank you for helping us learn more about Rev AD King through your writing. And the young pic of Mrs. Naomi King is so gorgeous!!! I loved seeing my little Jordan too. How blessed she is to have come in contact with such greatness- you and Mrs. Naomi King. Love you Lady! Oh Yea, it was cool finding out that my husband and I share the same wedding anniversary as Rev. AD and Mrs. Naomi

    Faith Artistically and Musically Expressed
    http://www.danaricemusic.com

  3. Wonderful article. We need more like this. It’s up to those who remember history to remind those of us who have a tendency to forget. Renee Sudderth keep going young lady. I’m so proud of you.

  4. ALYCIA BURNETTE COFFIN – Sept 24, 2019 – Via Facebook – Renee Sudderth…..you are an amazing journalist!! Thank you big sister

  5. LYDIA RAGLIN – Sept 24, 2019 – Via FACEBOOK – Thank you for honoring this great man and his contributions to the Movement and to Ebenezer Baptist Church!

  6. Thank you for such a great story unveiled. Many people till date have no idea Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had a brother who was an icon in his own right. He was in his big brother’s shadow. Side by side they both fought for freedom, justice and equal opportunities for all Americans. Just like Mrs. Naomi stated, ” How can you be missed when you are not even known”. We must do everything to recognize both brothers for paying the ultimate price for our freedom. We will never forget A D and ML. Rest In Peace.

  7. Renee, thank you for this article. My husband and I had a great conversation about his visits to Ebenezer Baptist church after we read it. He hadn’t realized that the reverend A.D. King had died so close in time to his brother. I’m proud to know you, and work with you. Love, Jen

  8. CONSTANCE BRYANT – Oct 1, 2019 – Via Email – Awesome family memorable Event for us all as a universal family! Great Job Cuz?

    “Coming together is a beginning, Staying together is progress, and Working together is SUCCESS!” Henry Ford

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