Dr. Alveda King has six living children but shared with a Knoxville audience last month the story of two babies she lost to abortion.
A niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a civil rights activist herself, Dr. King was the keynote speaker Oct. 19 at the annual benefit banquet sponsored by the Knoxville chapter of Tennessee Right to Life (TRL).
The evening also brought recognition for a local Catholic couple and a high school student. Bishop Joseph E. Kurtz led the benediction.
“People would say, ‘Aren’t you ashamed to say you had abortions?’ You know, I’d be ashamed if I couldn’t tell it to see people heal and be set free,” said Dr. King. “In 1983 I became born again, and I understood in my repentance that the Lord forgave me and that I will see my babies.
Dr. King is a daughter of the Rev. A. D. King, who was found dead in his swimming pool in Atlanta a year after his older brother was assassinated. The younger sibling, 38, a champion swimmer in college, was a partner with his brother in the civil rights movement.
They worked together. They marched together,” said Dr. Alveda King. “Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, and in 1969, one week after he walked me down the aisle when I got married, my dad was found in a swimming pool with no water in his lungs and a bruise on his head.”
The banquet keynoter is an author and a former Georgia state representative and college professor. She founded the King for America faith-based organization and currently serves as director of African American Outreach for Gospel of Life, headed by Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.
“I’m nondenominational now,” said Dr. King. “I made my promises for the ministry Missionaries for the Gospel of Life, working for Father Frank Pavone, who can preach better than any preacher you’ve heard. That man can really preach.”
Dr. King, speaking to a banquet crowd of about 400, said those in the pro-life cause are “living in an exciting time.”
“There were days when those of us in the pro-life movement felt alone. Maybe at your first meeting you probably had fewer people than you have now. Is that true? I would think so.
“Tonight is a living testimony to what God has been showing to all of us.”
Dr. King acknowledged the upcoming Nov. 7 elections at the banquet.
“You’ve got a political race going. You’ve got to vote for life, period. You can pray for and meet with every candidate. You can help every candidate. If you have a candidate who sometimes will vote for and sometimes vote against life—that candidate probably wants to be pro-life and just needs to be encouraged.”
She added that people should not leave their political party over life issues.
“Go to your party and say to the people, ‘We’re not going to support killing our babies.’ You don’t have to leave a party to say that.”
The death of her father was part of a whirlwind of events in her life at that time, Dr. King said.
“He is dead, and he is in the swimming pool, and in a few days the doctor tells me that I’m pregnant. I got pregnant on my honeymoon. In the midst of the tragedy of losing both [her father and uncle], a new life was giving us hope, and that was good in our family.”
Not long after the child’s birth, Dr. King became pregnant again.
“The doctor says, ‘You don’t need another baby.’ That’s all he said. This was in 1971. He did an involuntary D and C [abortion by dilation and curettage] and didn’t tell me what was going on. That was my second baby, and that baby was aborted without my permission. . . . I immediately became a breast-cancer candidate just from that abortion because if you take a healthy baby and a healthy mama, and you remove the baby, the [hormone] system goes crazy.”
Dr. King said she blamed her second abortion in 1973 on “my personality change in ’71 after the first one.” Having divorced about the time of the later abortion, she was dating a man a few years afterward and became pregnant. At that time, she said she was “one of the biggest pro-choice women’s libbers you know: elected to office, acting, singing, writing, and still quiet about those two babies who were gone.”
She considered a third abortion—until she talked to the father of the baby and to “Daddy King,” a.k.a. the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr.
“[The baby’s father] looked at me and—get what this black man says: ‘nobody’s going to kill a baby of mine.’ I go to Daddy King, who from [her infancy] had given me everything I ever wanted, and said, ‘Granddad, abortion is legal. It’s a not a baby, it’s a lump of tissue.’
“I’m just talking, yakking. . . . Daddy King said, ‘Nobody’s going to kill a baby of mine.’ So I had two black men who helped me break that vicious cycle of death.
“That baby will be 30 years old in a few days.”
Dr. King said she was once questioned at a meeting about a Planned Parenthood award presented to Dr. Martin Luther King in 1966. She told that gathering that “when Planned Parenthood gave that award, they were at that time trying to strengthen all families, especially the Negro families.’
“They did not come and say, ‘We want to kill about a third of you.’ Now, if they had said that to Dr. King, I doubt he would have accepted the award"