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Home of Rev. A.D. King Added to Civil Rights Network

firefighters and neighbors observe the rubble
Aftermath of the firebombing of the Rev. A.D. King's house in 1963. (AP)

By Thursday, 24 September 2020 01:35 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The home of the Rev. A.D. King that was firebombed in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 11, 1963 while he, and we, his family, were inside has been added to the African American Civil Rights Network.

My daddy, the Rev. A.D. King, is the brother of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. They live in heaven now.

Our former home at 721 12th Street in the Ensley section of Birmingham was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008 in recognition of Daddy's civil rights activism.

On Thursday, Sept. 24, the house will officially be included on the African American Civil Rights Network to ensure the history of the home and the legacy of its occupants are never forgotten.

Looking back on that Saturday night when our home was bombed in 1963, the night before Mother's'Day, I can only thank God for those of our family who remain today.

That night, my dad was in the bedroom working on his sermon for the next day. My mother, Naomi Ruth Barber King, had just finished setting the table for Mother's Day dinner the next day. My brother was in the den watching a war movie; and the rest of us, my four siblings and I, were all in bed when the first bomb went off. It was a small bomb that only cracked the picture window at the front of the house.

At that time Daddy went to the front of the house where he saw Mama standing by the window. He told her, "Come on, it's too quiet out there," and he grabbed her hand and hurried her towards the back of the house. When we were about halfway to the back of the house, a second bomb exploded. The only thing that was left unbroken in the debris was a picture of Jesus.

Mama always says that the first bomb was designed to draw everyone to the front of the house so the second bomb would kill us.

It was only by the Grace of God that no one was killed.

Daddy directed us to safety through the garage. Once outside, we climbed a fence to get away, fearing more explosions. I remember tearing my blue and white corduroy bathrobe, a gift from my grandmother, as we scaled the fence.

Back then, our home was the parsonage for the First Baptist Church of Ensley, where Daddy was pastor. When a crowd gathered after the explosions, Daddy climbed up on a car to ask people not to respond to violence with more violence, but to go home and pray.

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, and Janet Morana, co-founder of Silent No More visited the house with me almost 20 years ago.

"I have been to this house with Alveda, and have discussed with her many times the memories and lessons we can learn from it. The message of nonviolence is one that we are proud to carry forward and apply to our times," said Fr. Pavone.

Daddy not only worked alongside my Uncle M.L., but was a leader in his own right. When we moved to Kentucky for my father to take over Mount Zion Church in Louisville, Daddy also formed the Kentucky Christian Leadership Conference. He also led the Fair Housing Movement there. Subsequently, his office was bombed.

Daddy's death in 1969, falsely attributed to suicide and later to accidental drowning, was another assassination in our family. A week after he walked me down the isle, he was killed. Now, years later, this tribute helps us to remember his legacy. We are grateful.

Dr. Alveda C. King grew up in the civil rights movement led by her uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She is director of African-American outreach for Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries. Her family home in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed, as was her father's church office in Louisville, Ky. Alveda herself was jailed during the open housing movement. Read Dr. Alveda C. King's Reports — More Here.

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The house will officially be included on the African American Civil Rights Network to ensure the history of the home and the legacy of its occupants are never forgotten.
revadking, civilrights
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2020-35-24
Thursday, 24 September 2020 01:35 PM
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