Ebenezer Baptist Church

MLK's Mother Was Assassinated, Too: The Forgotten Women Of Black History Month

On June 30th, 1973, Alberta Williams King was gunned down while she played the organ for the “Lord’s Prayer” at Ebenezer Baptist Church. As a Christian civil rights activist, she was assassinated…just like her son, Martin Luther King, Jr. But most people remember only one. Until a month ago, I was one of those people.

On this MLK Day, Remember to Honor His Mother

by kvscott

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”

It was King’s mother, Alberta Christine Williams whose family tree would influence her son’s destiny. Her father, the Rev. Albert Daniel Williams was the son of a slave preacher. It was his destiny to take over the troubled Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, with just 13 members and no permanent structure for services. It was her father who would inspire a congregation and fill up the pews. After his death, her husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. would become Pastor, eventually succeeded by her son, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. While away at Crozer Theological Seminary, King wrote:

“Your letter was received this morning. I often tell the boys around the campus I have the best mother in the world.”

[Continue reading article in its entirety at Me and My 1000 Girlfriends, That’s Who!]

Maya Angelou dead at 86

NBC News: Award-winning author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has died at age 86.

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Photo: Maya Angelou speaks on race relations at Congregation B’nai Israel and Ebenezer Baptist Church on January 16, 2014 in Boca Raton, Fla.(Jeff Daly/Invision/AP via NBCNews.com)

Dec. 3 8:36 pm
Is Your Heart Right?
  • Is Your Heart Right?
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • 1968 Unfulfilled Dreams Sermon

The Day Martin Luther King Spoke to Me as a Failed Man 

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Rarely are larger-than-life historical figures relatable as human beings. For me, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a character of history books and film strips. A man to be admired for his empowering speeches and his inspirational marches. Although I knew he was a towering preacher, a man of God, I never thought of him as a person wrestling with his own weaknesses, grappling with his own frailties and contradictions.

That is, until I heard this part of his “Unfulfilled Dreams” sermon (audio above) given in the final months of his life:

“The question I want to raise this morning with you: Is your heart right? If your heart isn’t right, fix it up today. Get God to fix it up. Get somebody to be able to say about you, "He may not have reached the highest height, he may not have realized all of his dreams, but he tried.” Isn’t that a wonderful thing for somebody to say about you? “He tried to be a good man. He tried to be a just man. He tried to be an honest man. His heart was in the right place.” And I can hear a voice saying, crying out through the eternities, “I accept you. You are the recipient of my grace because it was in your heart! And it is so well that it was within thine heart.”

 I don’t know this morning about you, but I can make a testimony. You don’t need to go out this morning saying that Martin Luther King is a saint. Oh, no. I want you to know this morning that I’m a sinner like all of God’s children! But I want to be a good man! And I want to hear a voice saying to me one day, “I take you in and I bless you, because you try. It is well that it was within thine heart.” What’s in your heart this morning? If you get your heart right.“

 For a man without religious convictions or a spiritual mooring, I heard a sermon in that moment that spoke to my own vulnerabilities as a husband and a father, as a son and a friend. And he does it in the most honest way: by asking, at least in my hearing, for understanding and forgiveness from his congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church – the church his father founded – in Atlanta, Georgia.

You see, I’ve never been all that comfortable with the language of sin. It’s often wielded as weapon in one’s quest for a supernatural resting place. So often this language strips a man of his dignity, makes him feel small, inconsequential, a cog in a nasty machine.

But Dr. King in this sermon elevates the human spirit by making himself vulnerable. The language of sin is human frailty united with goodness and desire. We long to be more than we are, and stumble many times along the way. Dr. King expresses that goodness and frailty inside all of us. He points the finger at himself. He holds my hand and says come walk beside me and take stock of your life. He tells me not to shrink but to acknowledge, repent, and stride forward. He lets me know that being one of the fallen is to be a divine creature. He lets me know that striving to be a good man, a good father, a good husband, is part of the journey – that one’s quest to be more than his basest self is redeeming, and flawed.

Dr. King’s context was the 60s and civil rights. You hear a gentle leader at his most prescient; he would be killed a month later in Memphis, Tennessee. The tension and anxiety in this sermon are palpable, thick with a foreboding awareness that his life’s work would be coming to an end.

His legacy today endures in so many ways. But, for me, it’s the preacher in the pulpit who called me back to my own humanity, rescuing me from abject despair. In that moment one spring night several years ago, he reminded me, “It’s alright. Keep on trying.” I want to be a good man.

Our colleagues next door at American RadioWorks just released a riveting documentary about the last year of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life.

MLK's Mother Was Assassinated, Too: The Forgotten Women Of Black History Month

ByAurin SquirePublishedFebruary 4, 2015,  6:00 AM EST 425476 views

On June 30th, 1974, Alberta Williams King was gunned down while she played the organ for the “Lord’s Prayer” at Ebenezer Baptist Church. As a Christian civil rights activist, she was assassinated…just like her son, Martin Luther King, Jr. But most people remember only one.  Until a month ago, I was one of those people.

When a friend told me about Alberta Williams King, my first reaction was “who?” This question was followed by a wave of shame. It was the same feeling I had a few years ago when I first heard about Fannie Lou Hamer. Then later came Ida B. Wells and other leaders who seemed to appear in the discussion of American history to my confused, uninformed silence. I started to suspect that I had half an education and that I had been leaving out the role of women and feminism in Black History.

I thought I was fairly well-versed in African-American history. My parents filled our shelves with the core curriculum: Up From Slavery, Letters from a Birmingham Jail, Native Son, Black Boy, Go Tell it On the Mountain, Soul on Ice, The Miseducation of the Negro, Before Columbus, and many more pieces of literature and non-fiction. I immersed myself in books, hagiography, essays, videos, encyclopedias. My extracurricular studies came from an authentic curiosity (instead of dutiful obligation) to know more about my family. Black females held the role of poetry and song: Phillis Wheatley, Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni, Sapphire. But as far as activism and leadership, the ranks were all-male.

“Well, we don’t study it that much because there’s no such thing.” As South Florida child attending privileged white schools, I heard this answer a lot in response to request for getting more out of February. Usually I was the only black face in the honors classes and would be the lone petitioner. By the time I was in middle school, the atmospheric ignorance didn’t invoke anger in me. Instead I became curious as to who else did not “have a history.”

The answer was anything not in Europe or the Mideast. When my teachers lectured about Mideast history, they had to mentally sever Egypt, Libya, and most of the region from the African continent just to keep the Eurocentric/Mediterranean conceit in tact. But none of this surprised me. Most of my white peers reached a consensus that African-Americans didn’t really have a history before slavery (or the arrival of Europeans) and not much to talk about after the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The only subcategory with an even smaller claim to historical significance were Black women. And while a fierce argument would rage in defense of the need for black history, most were willing to concede the importance of that history’s feminism.

Now this isn’t meant to be a diatribe against my teachers, family, or community. I’m grateful for their lessons on African-American men who made black history. But after hearing about Alberta Williams King last month having no idea of who she was, I began to wonder how many transformational stories I had been missing. With the exception of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, I had neglected one half of my story.  

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.

The wave of inter- and intra-community violence against women and African American LGBT citizens is not an accident. It may seem like nit-picking to talk about the lack of non-heteronormative stories during Black History Month. But historical exclusivity often has a way of turning into present and institutionalized tragedy. Whose story gets told matters.

As an adult, I’m trying to make up for lost time. By getting to know Wells’ work in highlighting lynchings, Mrs. King’s behind-the-scenes leadership, Fannie Lou Hamer’s activism in Mississippi to get people registered to vote, and many other women whose stories must be told to our children when they are young so that they become a part of the accepted mainstream of black History.


A shooting in a sanctuary

“Atlanta, Ga. - June 30, 1974 - Scene outside of Ebenezer Baptist Church after the shooting of Mrs. Alberta King, mother of Martin Luther King Jr. (Bill Mahan/AJC staff)” Alberta Williams King, 70, who was seated at the church organ playing “The Lord’s Prayer,” was killed, as was Deacon Edward Boykin, 69, by a visitor to the church. A woman in the congregation was wounded. The killer was sentenced to life in prison and he died of a stroke in a Georgia prison cell in 1995.

Photo courtesy of The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

BREAKING: Eric Holder Announces Plan To End Racial Profiling "Once And For All"

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans to limit racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies, a move long-awaited by civil rights advocates.

Addressing the state of race and policing relations, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that he plans to introduce new policies that will end racial profiling “once and for all.”

Speaking to a capacity crowd at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher, Holder said he’d lay out specific policy changes in the coming days, but acknowledged that the events in Ferguson, Missouri, had laid bare significant issues regarding policing and race relations.

“The issues raised in Missouri are not unique to that state or small city,” he said.

Tackling those issues would require systemic changes and a commitment at the federal, state and local levels to change how law enforcement interacts with the public.

“Our police officers cannot be, or be viewed as, an occupying force, disconnected to the communities they serve,” Holder said. “Bonds that have been broken must be restored; bonds that never existed must be created.”

Part of that effort, he added, would be “rigorous new standards and robust safeguards to help end racial profiling once and for all.”

The Bush administration outlawed racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies in 2003, but left the door open for national security cases. The Justice Department also did not limit officers from discriminating based on other factors, such as national origin, religion or sexual orientation, Time reported.

Holder also touched on the Obama administration’s support for the use of body cameras by local police by launching a $263-million, three-year effort to buy 50,000 body cameras for law enforcement.

The White House also planned to address “a lack of consistency” for how the military equipment is distributed to local police agencies, Holder said.

Local agencies would get streamlined standards for the type of military equipment the get and increased training for how to use it.

Ferguson police were criticized for their heavily armed response to protesters.

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Protesters interrupt U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as speaks to members of the community during an interfaith service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dec. 1, 2014, in Atlanta. David Goldman/Associated Press

The attorney general’s comments came one week after a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to file charges against a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.

Despite the grand jury’s decision, Holder said that separate and independent Justice Department investigations into Brown’s shooting death, and the actions of the Ferguson police department, remained ongoing.

Meanwhile, the ripple effect of the jury’s decision, and the protest movement it sparked, continues to touch cities across the U.S.

Thousands of residents in cities across the U.S. have since mounted their own demonstrations, often using the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” as their anthem.

“The rifts that this tragedy exposed in Ferguson and elsewhere, must be addressed,” Holder said.

The ripple effects were also seen inside the church Monday night when a small group of demonstrators chanting “no justice, no peace” interrupted the attorney general’s speech. Holder made it clear he wasn’t upset at the demonstration, calling it “a genuine expression of concern and involvement.”

“So let me be clear: I ain’t mad at ya,” he said.

Ferguson-inspired demonstrations have showed no signs of slowing. On Monday, thousands of students at campuses across the national staged mass walkouts.

The night before, several St. Louis Rams players caused a stir after also raising their hands over their heads in the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture during a home game against the Raiders.

Source: Jason Wells for Buzzfeed News

Marking The Next Massacre? Confederate Flags Placed Around Black Church In Georgia By White Males (VIDEO)

Marking The Next Massacre? Confederate Flags Placed Around Black Church In Georgia By White Males (VIDEO)

Police in Atlanta are reporting that overnight, two white males placed several Confederate flags on the grounds of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. That church is where Martin Luther King, Jr. once preached. The incident occurred just weeks after nine worshippers were killed at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. According to Atlanta TV station…

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Pastor Raphael Warnock Kicks Off New Baptist Covenant Summit; Challenges Black, White Baptists to Move Beyond Comfort Zones of Race

Pastor Raphael Warnock Kicks Off New Baptist Covenant Summit; Challenges Black, White Baptists to Move Beyond Comfort Zones of Race

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Raphael Warnock preaches during the opening session of the New Baptist Covenant Summit in Atlanta. (BNG photo by Bob Allen)

The current pastor of the spiritual home of Martin Luther King Jr. challenged a movement called the New Baptist Covenant to move beyond comfort zones of race and theology toward a “covenant community” characterized by “creative and redemptive agitation” necessary for…

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