They Had a Dream: The Legacy of Granddaddy King – Father of Martin Luther King
by Kevin Burke, LSW
“Kevin has been a source of insight regarding the impact of and connection to abortion and the role of the father figure in the life of a little girl who grows up to become a mother. I hope that his blog will bless many with the same insight with which Kevin has blessed me.” – Dr. Alveda C. King, Director of African American Outreach for Priests for Life
The King Family shared in a special way in the legacy of triumph and tragedy that marked the Civil Rights movement in the tumultuous decades of the 1950’s and 1960’s. It is widely known that their non-violent, prayerful resistance was a cornerstone of the strategy to dismantle the systemic structures of racism and violence that plagued so many African Americans. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. and his brother A.D. King were very visible leaders of this movement. They embodied some of the best qualities of manly and fatherly leadership in their struggle for the civil rights of all Americans, especially the weakest and powerless in our society.
Where did these men find the courage and develop those Gospel-rooted values that led them to be such powerful advocates for the oppressed?
A lesser known part of the King Family legacy is the witness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. Many years before the Civil Rights movement and his son Martin’s famous “I have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, Granddaddy King was already a strong advocate for the vulnerable and powerless. Thirteen years before that iconic speech in Washington D.C., Granddaddy King also had his own very special dream.
Dr. Alveda King is the daughter of A.D. King and Niece of Martin Luther King. Alveda gives us a glimpse into the heart and soul of her grandfather:
In 1950 my mother was pregnant with me and scared. She was looking for a doctor to perform a D&C abortion procedure. Granddaddy King told my mother:
“They (Planned Parenthood) are lying to you. That is not a lump of flesh. That’s my granddaughter. I saw her in a dream three years ago. She has bright skin and bright red hair and she’s going to bless many people.”
Research confirms that a father or grandfather’s reaction to an unplanned pregnancy is a significant influence on the mother’s decision to parent or abort the child.(1) Thankfully Granddaddy King stood up and defended the life of his unborn grandchild. Granddaddy and Alveda’s father promised to help her through that first unexpected pregnancy and Alveda was born to A. D. and Naomi Ruth Barber King on January 22, 1951. Over the years, Alveda’s mother recovered from her anger, finding grace in her relationship with Jesus Christ.
Years later the King family would lead millions of African Americans to great victories over the forces of racism. Granddaddy King’s famous sons would peacefully but powerfully advocate for the poor and oppressed African Americans whose civil rights, economic opportunity and God given dignity were being aborted by the institutionalized evil of racism.
Yet they also suffered a number of causalities. A.D. King died in a suspicious and tragic drowning accident a year after the assassination of his brother Martin Luther King. The death of Alveda’s father inflicted a deep wound on Alveda’s heart and soul at the same time the sexual revolution and abortion rights were in rapid ascent. Alveda shares:
During those years of my life, I made some scared and angry decisions, including having two of what was presented to me as “safe and legal abortions.” The first procedure was an involuntary abortion. The pro -abortion philosophy was empowering physicians to use their considerable influence to advocate for abortion. Sometimes they simply took matters in their own hands and boldly played God with vulnerable women and their unborn children.
Shortly before the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 I went to my doctor to ask why my monthly cycle had not resumed after the birth of my son. I did not ask for and did not want an abortion. The doctor said, “You certainly don’t need to be pregnant…let’s take a look.” He proceeded to perform a painful examination which resulted in a gush of blood and tissue emanating from my womb. He explained that he had performed a “local D and C.”
Sadly, the rise of pro abortion feminism was empowering men to embrace values that were radically different than those modeled by Granddaddy King and his famous sons. Rather than defending and protected the powerless entrusted to their care, men were being corrupted by the philosophy and practice of abortion rights and the rhetoric of choice.
Just a few short years after Martin Luther King was assassinated for his mission to protect and empower those oppressed by racism, black fathers were now participating in the death of their unborn black children; the same children that Dr Martin Luther King dreamed would one day live in a country “where children…will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” (Speech of MLK 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.)
Alveda: I never was able to process the trauma from that forced abortion. Soon after the Roe v. Wade decision, I became pregnant again. There was adverse pressure and threat of violence from the baby’s father now that abortion was legal and readily accessible. The ease and convenience provided through Roe v. Wade made it too easy for me to make the fateful and fatal decision to abort our child.
Granddaddy King saved Alveda’s life in 1950. Twenty-five years later he once again stood tall and reached out to Alveda, now reeling after 2 unresolved abortion losses, to pull back from the precipice of deeper death and destruction:
Alveda: Granddaddy MLK, Sr. rescued me again in 1975. He and my son’s father promised to help me if I wouldn’t abort my next baby. I believed them, thank God.
But Alveda would still suffer the after affects of her abortion losses. She shares about the Shockwaves of Abortion and their impact on her life and family:
Over the next few years, I experienced medical problems. I had trouble bonding with my son, and his five siblings who were born after the abortions. I began to suffer from eating disorders, depression, nightmares, sexual dysfunctions and a host of other issues related to the abortion that I chose to have. I felt angry about both abortions, and very guilty about the abortion I chose to have. The guilt made me very ill.
My children have all suffered from knowing that they have a brother or sister that their mother chose to abort. Often they ask if I ever thought about aborting them and have said, “You killed our baby.” This is very painful for all of us. Also, my mother and grandparents were very sad to know about the loss of the baby. The aborted child’s father also regrets the abortion. If it had not been for Roe v. Wade, I would never have had that abortion. Thankfully, through God’s merciful healing we continue to recover and heal as a family from the pain and loss of those abortion losses.
When you look at the sacrifice and legacy of the King family in their battle for racial equality and justice, it is truly an abomination for Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates to spread the propaganda that abortion is a woman’s civil right. The struggle for civil rights for African Americans was a movement led by men and women who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice; they were ready to take a courageous stand and if necessary give their lives for those oppressed by racism and violence. Granddaddy King and his sons Martin Luther and A.D. King, and many other brave African American men embodied this model of manhood and fatherhood.
As we come to another Father’s Day celebration, let’s remember these men and emulate their values and sacrifice. Let us pray for those minority communities that have been especially targeted by abortion providers, and the fathers, mothers and families that have been devastated by the Shockwaves of Abortion.
“The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.”– Dr Martin Luther King
1. Aborted Women: Silent No More, David Reardon, Loyola University Press, Chicago, 1987
To read Alveda King’s testimony click HERE