Naomi Barber King: Civil rights activist and last of MLK Jr’s generation of Kings dies aged 92 

Francis Akhalbey March 08, 2024
Naomi Barber King was married to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s younger brother, A.D. King -- Photo: BerniceKing/X

Naomi Barber King, a civil rights activist and wife of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s younger brother, passed away in Atlanta on Thursday at the age of 92, the A.D. King Foundation announced in a statement, per The Associated Press.

Naomi King’s profile on the foundation’s website states that the civil rights activist kept the memory of her deceased husband alive by establishing the “A.D. King Foundation in 2008 with the primary focus on youth/women empowerment and nonviolent social change strategies as a way of life and entrepreneurship as the center core.”

“She was a woman of quiet dignity, overcoming strength, and steadfast support to her husband, family, and circles of influence within and beyond Atlanta,” the statement said.

Known as the “Butterfly Queen” because of her love for butterflies, Naomi King was born in Dothan, Alabama, and raised by her mother Bessie Barber, the foundation said. The pair later relocated to Atlanta to “make a better living” for themselves.

Naomi King and her mother also worshipped with the Ebenezer Baptist Church and “began to grow spiritually under the pastorate of Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. and his wife, Mrs. Alberta Williams King.”

The deceased 92-year-old in 1949 enrolled at Spelman College where she studied French for a year before marrying A.D. Williams King. Naomi King also took a subsequent course in interior design at the University of Alabama.

Naomi King was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement as she and her husband – also a civil rights activist – supported Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaigns and protests.

Per the foundation, Naomi King and her husband supported Martin Luther King, Jr. “when, in 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama; at the creation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957; when students in Greensboro, North Carolina, launch the sit-in movement in 1960; through the Birmingham campaign of 1963; during 1963’s ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’; and throughout 1965’s campaign to vote in Selma.”

“Toward the end of the campaign in Birmingham, on May 11, 1963, a bomb destroyed the Gaston Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was staying, and another significantly destroyed the home of Naomi and A.D. King. On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee,” the foundation added.

“This tragedy was soon followed by the death of King’s husband, A.D., in 1969; on July 21, King and her children were vacationing in Nassau when A.D. drowned in their home swimming pool but the family believed that he was murdered.”

In 2014, she published a book titled, “A.D. and ML King: Two Brothers Who Dared to Dream.”

Naomi King and her husband shared five children. The deceased grandparents are currently survived by their daughter, Alveda King, and son, Derek King, The Associated Press reported.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 8, 2024


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