King’s Journey: The tale of Alveda King and her experience with abortion

The year was 1950

It was spring in Atlanta and it was warmer than average, but the weather was far from young Naomi Barber’s mind. She had become pregnant with her pastor’s son. They weren’t married.

Margaret Sanger’s organization, the American Birth Control League (later Planned Parenthood,) was targeting minorities in the South, pushing their own flavor of eugenics—the belief that the “inferior races” should be culled. In the pre-Civil Rights era South, that meant people of color.

Naomi had been given one of their fliers. It read, “Be a credit to your race. Don’t have babies so that you can serve your community.”

Eighteen year old Naomi was scared and confused. Margaret Sanger offered a way out.

“You don’t have to have a lot of babies, there are procedures for mysterious female ailments,” they promised.

Naomi didn’t quite understand what this “procedure for mysterious female ailments” was, but it promised a solution.

The “mysterious female ailment” was pregnancy and their solution was abortion. Since abortion was illegal, they couldn’t identify it by name and the league exploited the ignorance of the women they targeted.

Naomi consulted her mother, Bessie Barber. The flier made Bessie uneasy and insisted they speak with their pastor — the baby’s grandfather.


Naomi and Bessie sat across from the Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. in his office at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. The Reverend, affectionately called Daddy King within the family, was in his early 50s.

Alfred Daniels “A. D.” King was the baby’s father and Daddy King’s youngest son. His oldest son,  was Martin Luther King Jr. Both of Daddy King’s sons would become civil rights activists.

The women explained Naomi was pregnant and what the league’s flier promised. Daddy King’s hand fell hard on the desk startling the two women.

“They are lying to you. That’s not a lump of flesh,” he pronounced with urgency.  “That’s my granddaughter. She has bright skin, bright hair, and she’s going to bless many people.”

Naomi chose to keep her baby and would marry A. D. not long after the meeting.

As Daddy King had prophetically spoken, Naomi gave birth to a girl with bright skin and red hair. She was named Alveda Celeste King.

They named me Alveda because it meant life, and Celeste after a grandmother, Alveda explained. “Daddy, always said, Celeste sounded like it was getting close to heaven.”

Her life was spared the fate the eugenists desired. Alveda would become an ardent opponent of Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood, but not before it left it’s own dark mark on her life.

A new life

“In 1969, my daddy, A. D. King walked me down the aisle as a virgin,” she recalled. “He had kind of protected and chased the boys away and wouldn’t let me go on dates.”

“I thought he was the meanest daddy in the world, But he was the best daddy in the world!” she said glowing.

Tragically, he died a week after the wedding. Alveda firmly believes he was murdered.

Ten months later, Alveda gave birth to her first child.

“My doctor was affiliated with Planned Parenthood, I just didn’t know,” she said.  “He delivered my first baby in the hospital with forceps.”

Four months after giving birth, she returned to her doctor for a pregnancy test.

“You don’t need another baby,” she recalled him saying. “So he pulls out his forceps, the same ones he used to deliver my living son, and he began to do the procedure in the exam room.”

He claimed it was only an examination — a very painful examination. She would later learn that, without her consent or knowledge, he had aborted her child. The baby’s name was Philip.

He referred her to Planned Parenthood.

“They’ll be your friends,” he said. “Don’t talk to anyone at church, don’t talk to your family. Go talk to these people. They’ll help.”

The post-abortive trauma, Alveda contends, lead to her becoming secretive and withdrawn. This would have far reaching negative effects on her relationships with her family and husband.

“It’s an unnatural way of being alienated from people,” Alveda explained.

It was now 1973

Alveda was again pregnant. She had little in the way of a support system. Her father had died four years earlier, she didn’t speak with her mother, and she was now separated from her husband — who was encouraging her to have an abortion.

Abortion was now legal. Alveda turned to Planned Parenthood.

“You don’t need a baby right now. You have enough problems,” she recalled the counselor saying. “There’s a new procedure out. Your insurance will even pay for it. You can go to the hospital and they’ll take care of that. It’s just a blob of tissue.”

“So, that baby was aborted as well,” Alveda recalled somberly.

Her daughter, Jessica, became another victim of Planned Parenthood’s deception.

No choice

Often, Planned Parenthood speaks about empowering women and giving them a choice. They fail to mention that the consequences of having an abortion can take away future choices.

“There was a lot of damage to my body during those procedures,” Alveda said, referring to the abortions.

Her next pregnancy ended in a miscarriage that doctors would later attribute to the damage incurred from her abortions. She named him  Raphael.

Daddy King

Alveda had divorced her first husband and  was now dating.

She was a changed person, and not for the better, Alveda  explained. Gone were the days of chastity — she had became pregnant with her new boyfriend’s baby.

“I know abortion is legal,” she said to herself. “I’m going to have an abortion. Because a woman has a right to choose what she does with her body. I was liberated. I thought it was okay.”

Alveda had never seen a sonogram. She didn’t know the baby inside of her wasn’t her own body, wasn’t just the blob of tissue Planned Parenthood erroneously claimed it was.

She was living with her family, but had become withdrawn.. Yet, still unsure of herself, she decided to speak with King Sr., Daddy King.

“Granddaddy, I’m going down to Planned Parenthood. I’m having an abortion. The baby’s daddy doesn’t agree.”

Echoing the events of two decades prior, Daddy King’s hand again fell hard on his desk.

“They’re lying to you!That’s not a lump of flesh. That’s my great grandchild. No!”

“I still had respect for my grandfather’s authority and there was enough of his authority spoken to me that I didn’t do it,” Alveda said.

Although a baby had been saved, it would take another encounter and another decade for Alveda herself to be saved and set down a path of healing.

Born Again

Dr Alveda Celeste King in Blue Arms Crossed

Dr. Alveda King Photo / Priests for Life

In 1983, a colleague helped lead Alveda to Jesus Christ.

For the first time, she realized she had played a role in the deaths of her children.

That sorrow weighed heavily on her. Alveda spent time with Rachel’s Vineyard, a ministry that helps women heal from the emotional trauma of abortions.

Since that time, Alveda has become an outspoken advocate of preborn children and women who are exploited by the abortion industry. She travels the country speaking with college students about her experiences, encouraging them to be vocal defending life.

In addition to her advocacy, Alveda King is director of African American outreach of Priests for Life, author of “King Rules, Ten Truths for You, Your Family, and Our Nation to Prosper”, and founder of Alveda King Ministries.

“A woman has a right to choose what she does with her body, but the baby’s not her body,” Alveda explained after a Students for Life rally at Michigan State University in Lansing (where the initial interview for this article took place.) “Where’s the lawyer for the baby? If we murder the children, ain’t justice anywhere. It’s a great injustice everywhere.”

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