Special recognition for firebombed home of MLK’s brother

African-American Civil Rights Network adds Birmingham parsonage to its properties

Priests for Life

September 23, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    

Contact:  Leslie Palma - 917-697-7039

The Birmingham, AL, home of the late civil rights leader Rev. A.D. King that was firebombed on May 11, 1963 while his family was inside has been added to the African American Civil Rights Network.

Rev. A.D. King was the brother of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and the father of Evangelist Alveda King, Executive Director of Civil Rights for the Unborn for Priests for Life.

The house at 721 12th Street in the Ensley section of Birmingham was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008 in recognition of Rev. A.D. King’s civil rights activism. During a ceremony at 9:30 a.m. CT on Thursday, Sept. 24, the house will officially be included on the Civil Rights Network to ensure the history of the home and the legacy of its occupants are never forgotten.

“It was a Saturday night,” Evangelist King recalled. “My father was in the bedroom working on his sermon for the next day and my mother, Naomi Barber King, had just finished setting the table for Mother’s Day the next day. My brother was in the den watching a movie and the rest of us, my three 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 AD went to the front of the house where he saw Naomi standing by the window. He told her, “come on, it’s too quite out there,” and he grabbed her hand and hurried her towards the back of the house. When they were about half ways to the back of the house, a second bomb exploded.

“The whole front of the house exploded,” she recalled. “The only thing that was left unbroken in the debris was a picture of Jesus.” She was 12 years old at the time.

It was speculated that the first bomb was designed to draw everyone to the front of the house so the second bomb would kill everyone.

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

Once outside, family members climbed a fence to get away, fearing more explosions. Evangelist King still recalls tearing her blue and white bathrobe, a gift from her grandmother, as she scaled the fence.

The home was the parsonage for the First Baptist Church of Ensley, where Rev. A.D. King was pastor. When a crowd gathered after the explosions, Evangelist King said her father 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, said, “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.”

Evangelist King will attend the ceremony with her mother and one of her brothers.

“My father not only worked alongside my Uncle Martin, but was a leader in his own right,” she said. “When we moved to Kentucky for my father to take over Mount Zion Church in Louisville, his office was bombed.”

Her father’s death in 1969, falsely attributed to suicide and later to accidental drowning, was another assassination in the King family, his daughter said.

“A week after he walked me down the aisle,” Evangelist King said, “My father was killed like his brother before him. But neither of them were silenced.”

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