Born in Dothan, Alabama in 1931, Mrs. Naomi Ruth Barber King was destined to become a woman of quiet dignity, strength and support to her husband, her family and the communities around her. Naomi would come to walk in the grace and distinction of her beloved butterflies, and acquire the noted title of the “Butterfly Queen.”
Like the butterfly, Mrs. King brings beauty and joy to everyone around her. Colorful and talented, she uses her creativity to handle the most difficult tasks, and manages to put those near her at ease in the process. “Jesus is my anchor, and I praise God for His love and blessings,” she often proclaims.
In the early days of her life, Naomi was raised by her mother Bessie Barber who was a favored cook in a prominent Atlanta home. They had moved to Atlanta to “make a better living” for themselves. “Mama Bessie” spared nothing for the upbringing of her daughter. Thanks to the generosity of her mother’s employers, Naomi wore the finest clothes, observed the most admired social graces and received the best education possible for her times.
Bessie and Naomi joined Ebenezer Baptist Church and began to grow spiritually under the pastorate of Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. and his wife, Mrs. Alberta Williams King. Naomi got to know their children, and caught the eye of their youngest son, A. D. As a young woman, Naomi was charming, graceful, willowy and beautiful. She stood out in a crowd, and was often selected by local clothing stores as a preferred fashion model, earning for her the distinct honor of being featured in shop windows and circulars right along with “white” counterparts. Later, photographs of Naomi and her children would also appear prominent Atlanta photographers’ galleries.She was also a stellar student, excelling in French and English. Her scholastic abilities, especially her writing skills earned for her the distinct opportunity to address her class at her high school graduation. Her extracurricular talents included writing poetry, dancing and singing. She entered college as a “French Major.” Parlez-vous? Naomi’s ultimate calling would be life as a First Lady. With the support and guidance of “Daddy King,” she married A. D. and they began their family. They would parent five children, and together become the “quiet support” of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; leader of the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th Century.
Naomi recalls that her courtship and marriage to Rev. King is a wonderful “love story.” A. D. called her “Neenie.” As the young wife of her activist husband, Rev. A. D. King, I, she stood as First Lady, confidant, prayer partner and advisor to the younger brother of the more famous Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the height of the civil rights battles, where together A. D. and Naomi lived through the bombings of their home and later their church, Naomi was a “quiet strength” to her husband and family.
During his lifetime, Rev. A. D. shepherded four churches. At his side, Mrs. A. D. Williams King stood as First Lady, bringing musical concerts, women’s enrichment programs and gracious tools for living to their congregations. She was a noted hostess of women’s teas and a much sought after women’s day speaker.Today, Mrs. King is a beloved mother, grandmother, great grandmother, relative, friend, comfort and bright light to those in the church and communities she serves. Naomi is the inspiration of the documentary project A. D. King: Brother to the Dreamer. She is an author and speaks out on important issues of the day. For more information, please visit www.adkingfoundation.com
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