Remembering Another King Family Victim of Gun Violence

Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta
Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta. Photo by Dwight Wolter.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not the only member of his immediate family who was murdered. Dr. King’s mother, Alberta King, was fatally shot as she sat at the Ebenezer Baptist Church’s new organ, playing “The Lord’s Prayer” as her husband, Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. was in the pulpit, preaching. She was 70 years old. Her husband, Rev. King, Sr. watched it all as it happened during a Sunday morning church service.

Rev. King, Jr. was killed by a white man who had something against black people. Mrs. King was killed by a black man who had nothing against black people, but hated Christians. Rev. King, Sr., had to bury his son and his wife: both victims of gun violence.

If, as Dr. King famously said, injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere ~ then so too is it true that hatred anywhere is hatred everywhere ~ and violence anywhere is violence everywhere.

I felt sick to my stomach as I stood at the organ at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. But the sickness soon faded and was replaced by the resolve to look beyond whose lives matter and whose lives don’t. I felt the resolve to look beyond white-on-black, black-on-white, black-on-black and white-on-white violence to see just plain old, common as mud violence.

The other day, I heard, once again, many of the pleas of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for non-violence. And I heard Mrs. Alberta King’s plea from the grave for the same. Lord, have mercy on us. And may we learn to have mercy on each other.

Dwight Lee Wolter is the author of several books and the pastor of the Congegational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York. He blogs at dwightleewolter.com

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