Brother Of MLK Suspiciously Died Soon After Dr. King, But Here’s Why Many Never Knew

Posted On : July 21, 2021
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (far right) with his wife, Coretta Scott-King; and brother Pastor A.D. King

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was brutally assassinated on April 4, 1968, his younger brother, Rev. Alfred Daniel “A.D.” King, was with him on that tragic day. That day is forever marked in history, as death the incredibly brave civil rights icon, MLK. The day that has gone largely unnoticed, is the death of MLK’s baby brother, A.D. King- also a civil rights leader- the following year in 1969. As we continue to honor the legacy of Dr. King, we also wanted to shine light on the legacy and mysterious death of the brother who was hidden in MLK’s shadow.

Mysterious Details Of A.D. King’s Death

Just 15 months after Dr. King Jr. was assassinated, A.D. King died under suspicious circumstances. A.D. was extremely close to his brother, Martin. Following MLK’s assassination, A.D.’s widow, Naomi King, revealed to Seattle Times, that “He never recovered, because he felt it was his duty to protect his brother.”

On July 20, 1969, A.D.’s daughter, Alveda King, overheard him on the phone at their home, venting about MLK’s murder:

“They killed my brother. I’m gonna find out who did it,” he told someone on the phone, as Alveda stood nearby.

The following day, on July 21, 1969 -just 9 days before his 39th birthday- Rev. A.D. King, an avid swimmer, was found dead at the bottom of their family’s pool.

Family’s Suspicions

Following his death, King family members had suspicions about how he’d ‘accidentally died…
A.D. King’s daughter, Alveda King:

“Daddy was killed and put in the pool,” said Alveda, who was at work when the body was discovered. “When they pulled the body out, they began to pump his chest, but no water came out. One of the emergency people said he was dead when he hit the water.” Naomi flew back to Atlanta and, after identifying his body in the morgue, came to the same conclusion. -via ST

A.D.’s wife, Naomi King:

“Absolutely, he was murdered,” Naomi King said. “He was an excellent swimmer. There was no water in his lungs. He was in the fetal position. He had a bruised forehead. Rings around his neck. And he was in his underwear. He was murdered.” For his part, Daddy King said publicly that the civil-rights movement killed both of his sons, furthering the family narrative. -via ST

His Overlooked Legacy

Coretta Scott King with Martin Luther King Jr.’s brother, A.D. King, and daughter she shares with MLK Jr.

A.D. King was a well known pastor in throughout Birmingham, AL, where he fought for civil rights alongside his brother, MLK, and pastored his own church. He was also known among the confines of their family’s popular Ebenezer Church in Atlanta, Ga. In addition to that, he’s endured many of the struggles several other civil rights leaders did during the 1950’s and 60’s, including having his home bombed while he and his family were still in it, becoming a political prisoner, etc.. Yet, A.D. King’s legacy is still overlooked.

Dear friend of MLK and civil rights activist/former Atlanta mayor, Andrew Young, was by A.D. King’s side, consoling him as they both watched Dr. King die on that Lorraine Hotel balcony in ‘1968. Young later explained, to Seattle Times, why A.D.’s legacy was tucked away in the shadows of American history:

“A.D. King, if it hadn’t been for Martin and Daddy King [MLK Sr.,their father], would have been a prominent preacher in this city, because he was very good,” said Andrew Young. … “But he was Martin’s baby brother. The younger brother becomes the caricature. Somebody that they pick on.”

A.D.’s wife raised a great question:

“How can you be forgotten if you never been known?” asked Naomi.

Rev. Willie Bolden, good friend of A.D. revealed this:

“His [A.D.] strategy was to support his brother. … He never tried to usurp any of the limelight. Many people didn’t even know Martin Luther King had a brother.”

Rev. A.D. King was more than just the ‘unknown King brother,’ he was a father to his and Naomi’s five children- Alveda, Alfred, Derek, Esther and Vernon; a devoted husband; loyal brother; a pastor; and unsung hero of the civil rights fight.

Read How Dr. King’s and A.D. King’s Mother Was Brutally Murdered Shortly After Their Deaths HERE.