Remembering Alberta Williams as a woman in her own right can not only transform how we think about black history but also add nuance to the celebration of Dr. King.
[On June 30th, 1974 an armed gunman strode into the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The church, located in the heart of the black neighborhood of Auburn Avenue, employed both Martin Luther King Sr. and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as pastors. While the gunman sprayed bullets, by standers recalled: “the only person he seems to have pointed to was Mrs. King.” Major news outlets like the Washington Post reported “Mrs. King was shot while she was playing the organ in the church where her son once preached non-violence, and where her husband, Martin Luther King Sr., had been pastor for more than four decades.” After devoting considerable space to describing the gunman, M. W. Chenault, the Post lamented: “Mrs. King lost her life in the same red brick church that had been the center of her life since she was born Alberta Williams in 1904. Her father Rev. A. D. Williams founded Ebenezer Baptist Church. And when he died in 1931, Alberta’s husband Dr. Martin Luther King Sr., succeeded as pastor, a position he still holds.”]