On June 30, 1974, Alberta Williams King was shot and killed in the sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia as she played the organ for Sunday morning service. Mrs. King, seventy years old, was the mother of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. News of her death was overshadowed by four Black men: her son, killed six years previously; the shooting of a "young Black man" in Atlanta on June 26, 1974, who was out on parole; Maynard Jackson, then newly elected as Atlanta's first Black mayor; and her assailant, a Black man, a Vietnam War veteran with mental illness. Reporters focused on the irony that Mrs. King was shot and killed so close to where her son was buried. They also highlighted that the violence against Mrs. King was another installment of racial disturbances in Atlanta that week. On Wednesday when a young Black male parolee was shot, Black Atlantans responded in protests. This shooting occurred amidst the ongoing standoff between Maynard Jackson and the white Atlanta Chief of Police John Inman. Jackson fired Inman, who refused to step down from his post. The men at loggerheads threatened to further arouse racial tensions in the city. Maynard Jackson was abruptly summoned back to Atlanta to deal with the shooting, and the renewed racial unrest it brought, from a conference he was attending on the West Coast. Just when all was looking up and protesting seemed quelled, Marcus Wayne Chenault, Jr. shot and fatally wounded Mrs. King on Sunday morning. As he fired the shots, he yelled: "The war is still on! I'm going to kill everyone in here-they did it to me in the war." The gunman was also reported as repeatedly stating: "The war did this to me. It's the war." Chenault was twenty-one years old at the time of the shooting.
McMurtry-Chubb, Teri A.
"#SayHerName #BlackWomensLivesMatter: State Violence in Policing the Black Female Body,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 67:
3, Article 12.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol67/iss3/12