Skip to content

Naomi King dies at age 92


Sister-in-law of Martin Luther King Jr.

Mrs. Naomi Ruth Barber King, who married the younger brother of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and was the last living matriarch of her generation, has died at the age of 92 in Atlanta, Ga.

No further information about her demise was given in the statement released by the A.D. King Foundation.

Born in Dothan, Ala. circa 1931, Naomi Ruth Barber moved early on with her mother to Atlanta, Ga. where she joined the Ebenezer Baptist Church under the pastorate of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. She soon caught the eye of his son, Alfred Daniel, and they were joined in matrimony in 1950. She supported him as he followed his father and older brother into the ministry, and together they produced five children.

During the course of his ministry, A.D. King helmed four different churches, including the one most commonly associated with the King legacy, Ebenezer Baptist Church. Naomi continued her education at Spelman College and the University of Alabama where she pursued her interests in French and interior design.

Overshadowed by the growing celebrity of her brother-in-law, the couple were nonetheless active participants in the growing civil rights movement. 

Throughout the 1950s and 60s, they endured the ups and downs of the movement, including the launch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, and the better known Birmingham riot of May 1963.

The unrest stemmed from the campaign challenging Birmingham’s segregation system, as television crews captured the use of fire hoses and police dogs to disperse the Freedom Riders at the order of political bigwig “Bull” Connor.

This episode was punctuated by the bombing of A.D. and Naomi’s home, along with the Gaston Motel which was used to house civil rights workers in the same night.

Following the tragic and well publicized assassination of Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968, younger brother Rev. Alfred Daniel (A.D) King drowned in his swimming pool under questionable circumstances. His widow Naomi established the A.D. King Foundation in his honor in 2008.

Aside from her humanitarian and social activities, she was a published author of 2014’s “A.D. and ML King: Two Brothers Who Dared to Dream,” available on

Naomi Ruth Barber King is survived by a daughter, Alveda King; a son, Derek King; and several grandchildren.