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Fri, 06.16.1916

Izola Ware Curry, Hate Crime Assailant born

Izola Ware curry

*The birth of Izola Ware Curry in 1916 is celebrated on this date. She was a Black woman domestic who tried to kill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1958.

Born in Adrian, Georgia, Izola Ware was married to James Curry. The couple lived in Savannah until the late thirties when they separated then Izola Curry moved to New York City. She lived on the top floor of a tenement house at 121 W. 122nd Street in Harlem. She worked as a domestic. Then she was unemployed. Her mind, clouded with thoughts of fear, fear of a false enemy, began to fail her. For years, Curry feared the NAACP.  She believed that the members of the organization were all Communists.

Her life was a series of troubles; her marriage and her mind were troubled. Curry was in turmoil, her reasoning gone; she took a letter opener and plunged it into the chest of Dr. Martin Luther King on September 21, 1958, in New York City.  She was arrested at the scene and later found carrying a loaded gun.

During her questioning by police at New York's 28th Precinct, Curry indicated that she believed the NAACP and King had been "boycotting" and "torturing" her. When asked why she stabbed King, she replied, "if it weren't him, it would have been me; he was going to kill me." She was committed to Bellevue Hospital for observation and soon found not competent to stand trial.

On October 20, 1958, Curry was committed to Matteawan State Hospital for the criminally insane, where she was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. To this day, few people, if any, knew of the whereabouts of Izola Curry or even if she is alive.   Surprisingly, journalists who would have ordinarily covered the case in great detail have not covered the episode more.  Few, if any, photographs of Curry exist.   Izola Ware Curry died on March 7, 2015



The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., vol. 4:
Symbol of the Movement,
January 1957-December 1958, ed. Clayborne Carson, Susan Carson, Adrienne Clay, Virginia Shadron, Kieran Taylor
(Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000), p. 498n.

Photo, Jet Magazine

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