Alveda King follows in the footsteps of her uncle, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Alveda King’s father and uncle fought to free blacks from oppression, and she wants to free babies from abortion. King, a 56-year-old mother of six, works as director of African-American outreach for Priests for Life. Soon, Priests for Life will distribute her newly produced CD and DVD for teens and young adults. On Feb. 13, during Black History Month, King spoke from her home in Atlanta with Register correspondent Wayne Laugesen.
Tell me the defining aspects of your life.
I was born in Atlanta in 1951, and my father was the Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams King, whose brother was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The year after Uncle Martin was killed, my dad was killed. He was found in a swimming pool with a bruise on his head and no water in his lungs. It was called an accidental drowning, but there was no water in the pool. Dad’s house had been bombed, his church had been bombed and he’d been jailed for his message. My dad was subject to all the same threats as his brother. The circumstances of their killings, a year apart, seemed to me very similar to the deaths of Jack and Bobby [Kennedy].
Were you brought up Catholic?
I’m not Catholic. I was brought up as a Baptist, and today I’m a non-denominational full-Gospel Christian. At age 5, I believed Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary and that he died on the cross and rose again. But it wasn’t until 1983 that I confessed my sins in prayer and became “born again.” I gave my life to Christ. I said I would live for him and do whatever he wanted me to do.
We’re all guilty of sin. What kinds of sins were you living with before 1983?
The greatest sin was the abortion I chose. I’ve had two abortions and one miscarriage. The first abortion was forced on me in 1970. I got married one week before my father was killed. I got pregnant on my honeymoon and I already had one child. I went to the doctor, and the doctor just decided unilaterally that I didn’t need to be pregnant with another child at that time. He did an involuntary D and C [dilation and curettage procedure] and didn’t even tell me about it until it was over. I later learned that he had done a lot of things like that, making decisions for people without their input.
What happened to you after that first abortion?
I became very moody, depressed and hard to get along with. I had post-abortion stress disorder, but I didn’t know that. It really destroyed my marriage, and I was not well physically. I had problems with my breasts and cervical problems that were related to the abortion, but at the time I wasn’t connecting these things. In 1973, I tried to reconcile with my husband and I got pregnant. He absolutely did not want a baby, and it was pretty easy for me to succumb to the pressure to have an abortion. I bought the whole story that it was just a blob of tissue. That’s what the doctors and nurses told me. But as soon as I woke up from the abortion I knew something was terribly wrong. I told the doctor and nurses that I felt badly, that I felt empty and sad. They said, “It will go away and you’ll be fine.” That didn’t happen.
Where did you go from there?
In 1976, I was seeing a fellow and I became pregnant again. Because I was post abortive and depressed, I said, “We don’t have to have this baby.” He said, “Absolutely not. Nobody is going to abort my baby.” I went to my grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King Sr., and told him I was considering an abortion because it was a legal option. He said, “Nobody’s killing a grandchild of mine.” Two African-American men said “No,” and they saved that baby’s life. Today that child is 30 and the second of six living children.
How were you as a mother, having had two abortions?
For a long time I could not bond with my children because of the post-abortion stress I was suffering. After talking to God in 1983, I began a healing process and I was able to get close to my children. We’ve been doing fine now for 24 years, and they all understand why I was so distant before that.
Which was more traumatic for you, the elective abortion or the one a doctor forced on you?
I feel worse about the one I chose. I feel responsible for it.
You’re still trying to cope?
I still grieve. My aborted children are Philip and Jessica, and my miscarried child is Raphael. They are real people and I expect to meet them in heaven.
How close were you with Martin Luther King Jr.?
We were one big, close-knit family. Our families were together on weekends and holidays and lots of times in between. We did everything together.
Where were you when your uncle died?
I was at a dressmaker’s shop having a gown made for an ROTC ball, and it flashed on TV. It was quite a shock.
What was your uncle’s position regarding abortion on demand?
Abortion was illegal during his lifetime. It was unthinkable in America. But he said, “The Negro cannot win if he’s willing to sacrifice the future of his children for personal comfort and safety.” He spoke out against infanticide in “Letter From Birmingham Jail” and in a Christmas sermon. He said “injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere,” and it is an injustice to kill a person. If he were alive today, we might not have Roe v. Wade. It’s hard to know how successful he would have been in this battle.
Do you think abortion takes a bigger toll on the black community than on whites?
Statistics tell us that. Black women are 13% of the population, but 41% of aborted babies are black.
Does the black community understand this? Is there outrage?
Oh yes. I go across the country and have prayer breakfasts. Black women are coming out and talking about the abortions they regret, and black preachers are saying, “We’ve been silent too long.” I expect blacks will soon tell the Democratic Party, “We’re not going to continue killing babies.”
Why do you think abortion has been so disproportionately prevalent in the black community?
Margaret Sanger [founder of Planned Parenthood] had a eugenics program, and she wanted to eliminate certain elements of the population. One of Sanger’s targeted groups was black people [Google “The Negro Project”]. She sent secret messages about wanting to eliminate blacks, saying that if we can get their leaders to support us then we can get in there and do this. You can find research on this at BlackGenocide.org.
The mainstream press casts black leaders as pro-choice and socially liberal. Do you have trouble getting attention in the mainstream national press?
They don’t come looking for me. I have to actively seek media attention, and I don’t have the resources to do that. I was on Fox News this morning, and I’ve been on MSNBC and CNN. So I do get some coverage.
Who would you support to be the next president?
I’m working to elect Sen. Sam Brownback [R-Kan.]. He’s pro-life. He’s also very active in Sudan, working on the part of oppressed people there. He’s interested in significant prison reform, and he’s pro family.
Wayne Laugesen is based in