In remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. on this MLK Day, let's delve into the remarkable life of his lesser-known but equally impactful brother, Rev. A.D. King. Unlike MLK, Rev. A.D. King carved his own unique path, embodying resilience and toughness from an early age.
In his formative years, A.D. King established a reputation for being robust and occasionally rough around the edges, a persona I find more relatable than the iconic MLK. Despite becoming a father in his teens and shouldering the responsibility of raising five children, A.D. King pursued education later in life, earning his degree while juggling familial duties.
A graduate of Morehouse College, A.D. King actively served alongside his father at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. A committed advocate for civil rights, he marched side by side with MLK, enduring arrests during pivotal events like the 1960 lunch counter sit-in and the Selma Demonstrations, also known as Bloody Sunday. A.D. King's involvement extended to the Poor People's Campaign, showcasing his dedication to the cause.
Not one to seek the limelight, A.D. King humbly stood in his brother's shadow, maintaining a non-violent stance even in the face of adversity. His resilience was evident when, on May 16th, 1963, his house was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama. Addressing the outraged crowd, he yelled “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." demonstrating his unwavering commitment to the principles he shared with Martin.
Tragedy struck the King family once more when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. A.D. King, deeply affected, vowed to find the person responsible behind his brother's death. Returning to Atlanta, he became co-pastor alongside his father, earning praise for his preaching and compassionate pastoral care.
However, the shadows of tragedy lingered. Just 15 months after MLK's assassination, on July 21, 1969, and nine days before his 39th birthday, A.D. King was found dead in his swimming pool. Officially ruled an accidental drowning, suspicions arose, with A.D.'s widow, Naomi King, questioning the circumstances. She asserted, "There is no doubt in my mind that the system killed my husband. My Boaz was murdered."
In a pivotal moment in December 1999, a jury delivered a verdict that sent shockwaves through history – a unanimous agreement that not only affirmed the involvement of Loyd Jowers but also implicated "others, including government agencies," in a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This trial, though not exhaustive in its coverage, presented information that echoed some aspects of previous investigations.
As we reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on this day of remembrance, it raises questions about the broader context, including the lesser-explored aspects of his family's experiences. One wonders if the same scrutiny and investigation applied to the circumstances surrounding MLK's assassination will ever extend to his brother, the late Reverend Alfred Daniel King.
It is indeed a somber reminder that even those dedicated to the pursuit of justice and equality may find themselves entangled in narratives that extend far beyond personal aspirations. On this day, our hearts go out to the entire King family, who have borne the weight of historical events and uncertainties. May their pursuit of truth and justice be met with the recognition and transparency they deserve, as we collectively honor the enduring legacy of the Kings in the ongoing struggle for a more just and equitable society.
Overview of investigation of allegations regarding the assassination of dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. Civil Rights Division. (2023, August 8). https://www.justice.gov/crt/overview-investigation-allegations-regarding-assassination-dr-martin-luther-king-jr#:~:text=The%20trial%20concluded%20in%20December,already%20considered%20by%20our%20investigation.
Wikimedia Foundation. (2024, January 15). A. D. King. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._D._King
YouTube. (2020, January 5). Rev A D king: Behold the dream: Brother to the dream. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1NQ6bAFsmk