On Monday, when the world celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the family of his brother will say a prayer for a figure that has been largely lost in history – King’s younger brother, Alfred Daniel “A.D.” King.
“A.D. King, if it hadn’t been for Martin and his father, would have been a prominent preacher in this city, because he was a very good preacher,” said Ambassador Andrew Young. “He was active in all of the movements, but he was Martin’s baby brother. Only the Kennedys have been able to pull off a dynasty because they had enough money to do it.”
A.D. King died – found at the bottom of his family’s swimming pool — in July of 1969, about 15 months after his brother was assassinated in Memphis. Like his brother, he was also a graduate of Morehouse College, a minister and active in the civil rights movement.
But his path there was not always smooth, as he rebelled against black upper middle class convictions of the time as he got married at 19 and went about raising a family.
“Uncle Martin accepted the yoke of nonviolence early,” said A.D. King’s daughter, Alveda King said. “Daddy finally accepted it, because he wanted to follow his brother and Christ. But he had more of a temper. Daddy and [his father Martin Luther King Sr.] both had fiery tempers. That is why they fought a lot.”
Usually at his brother’s side, A.D. King pastored churches in Birmingham and Louisville and became a significant civil rights figure in each of those cities. In 1963, at the height of the contentious Birmingham movement, his house was bombed and his family barely escaped unharmed.
A.D. King’s widow and family have tried to resurrect A.D. King’s memory with the creation of the A.D. King Foundation, which teaches nonviolence in his name. The foundation has also released a documentary on A.D. King’s life.
“How can you be forgotten if you never been known?” asked his widow, Naomi King, 82. “He was always in the background. But I want his memory to live on.”
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