Civil rights activist Naomi Barber King, a sister-in-law to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., dies

Mar 7, 2024, 11:19 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — Naomi Barber King, a civil rights activist who was married to the younger brother of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., has died at age 92.

She died in Atlanta on Thursday, according to family members who issued a statement through the A.D. King Foundation.

Naomi King established the organization in May 2008 with a mission of empowering youth and women and advancing strategies for nonviolent social change.

“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.

Naomi King was born in Dothan, Alabama, according to the foundation’s website. She and her mother, Bessie Barber, moved to Atlanta to “make a better living” for themselves. In 1949, King entered Spelman College and spent a year studying French. She later attended the University of Alabama and studied interior design, according to the website.

She was married to the Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams King, a Baptist minister and civil rights leader she met after joining Ebenezer Baptist Church. The couple married in 1950 and had five children. A.D. King died in July 1969.

The couple supported Martin Luther King, Jr., and his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement and were at his side during multiple historic events, including the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, one of the most famous political rallies in U.S. history.

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

Known for her love of butterflies and affectionately called the “Butterfly Queen,” King set an example of courage, resilience and grace in the face of injustice, uncertainty and heartache, which were themes highlighted in a 2022 documentary about her life, according to the foundation.

She is survived by her daughter, Alveda King; her son, Derek King; and several grandchildren.

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Civil rights activist Naomi Barber King, a sister-in-law to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., dies