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Sun, 06.30.1974

Alberta W. King is Killed

On this date in 1974, Mrs. Alberta Williams King, the mother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot and killed.

The murder happened as Mrs. King sat at the organ in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Suddenly, Marcus Wayne Chenault, 23, opened fire with two revolvers. "I'm tired of all this!" he screamed.  He wounded three people, two of them, Mrs. King and Deacon Edward Boykin, who died.

When Martin Luther King, Sr., asked Chenault why he did it, the youth replied: "Because she was a Christian and all Christians are my enemies." The next day, Chenault declared his real name was "Servant Jacob." "I am a Hebrew," he said. "I was sent here on a purpose, and it's partly accomplished."

Raised in Winchester, Ky., Chenault was (at the time) a dropout of Ohio State University. He was a junior majoring in education. Chenault's religious beliefs appeared to be a confusing amalgam largely of his devising. The core of his murky philosophy was hatred of Christianity.  Probably central to his motivation was his sense of inadequacy and need for attention. Only two weeks before the killings, he told a friend that he would soon "be all over the newspapers."

Once more, the indomitable faith of the King family was tested, and again love prevailed amid sadness.  The Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., struck by the violent deaths of his sons and by the tragic death of his wife Alberta, said at her funeral service on July 3, “I cannot hate any man.”

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