Naomi Barber King

Youth, Women’s Activist Naomi Barber King Dies At 92

The King family stated that the civil rights activist "was a woman of quiet dignity" as she influenced her circle within and beyond Atlanta.

A trailblazing figure whose grace and unwavering support propelled the civil rights movement, Naomi Barber King, died at 92.

The wife of Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams King and sister-in-law of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. breathed her last in Atlanta on Thursday, as confirmed by the A.D. King Foundation, an organization she established in 2008 with the mission of empowering youth and women, and promoting nonviolent social change strategies. “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 read, according to ABC News.

Born in 1931 in Dothan, Alabama, the civil rights activist was raised by her mother, Bessie Barber, before they relocated to Atlanta “to make a better living.” The foundation described Barber King as “charming, graceful, willowy and beautiful” in her younger years. She was often chosen by local clothing stores to model their inventory, “earning for her the distinct honor of being featured in shop windows and circulars right along with ‘white’ counterparts.”

In 1950, following a year at Spelman College, she married A.D. Williams King, a Baptist minister and civil rights activist, and became an integral part of the movement alongside her husband and brother-in-law. She remained a steadfast supporter throughout the Montgomery bus boycott, the creation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Greensboro sit-ins, the Birmingham campaign, the March on Washington, and the Selma voting rights campaign.

Her contributions have been celebrated with numerous awards and honors, including the SCLC Rosa Parks Freedom Award. She is a recognized author who published A.D. and ML King: Two Brothers Who Dared to Dream, a love story of her life. Her husband who she shared five children with, died in July 1969 before she mourned the loss of her younger daughter Darlene, and her son, Al, years later. Their son, Vernon King, is also deceased.

Survived by her daughter Alveda King, son Derek King, and grandchildren, Barber King’s legacy as the “Butterfly Queen” will forever be etched in the annals of the civil rights movement.

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