Alberta Williams King (left) was assassinated just 6 years after her son Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee. On June 30th, 1974 Mrs. King was playing the organ inEbenezer Baptist Church - the very church her son was baptized and later became co-pastor in - when Marcus Wayne Chenault killed her. The assassination of Mrs. King took place less than 100 yards from where her son is buried.
Her assailant, a young black man, who eye-witnesses said "went berserk," and who was later reported to have said that "all Christians" were his enemies, was held by members of the church choir after he had wounded two other members of the congregation, one of them fatally.
Somehow I just learned of the fatal attack on Mrs. King today. Journalist Aurin Squire in aTalking Points Memo essay published earlier this week gives context for the gaping hole in our history books:
Even now, as the nation's attention focuses on the new generation of activists fighting against police brutality and hate crimes, it's women who are often left out. The silence has subtle but lasting consequences. Historical omission points toward a culture's subconscious beliefs that some people matter less than others. When female stories are muted, we are teaching our kids that their dignity is second class and the historical accounts of their lives are less relevant. This lowered value carries over when women face sexual objectification and systemic brutalization from inside and outside the community. When we can't see ourselves in our history, we begin to think that we are disconnected and suffering alone. Historical ignorance always precedes cultural imbalances and individual despair. Too many lives are still lived in the blank space, too many march for racial equality while subjugating their gender and even sexual orientation.