*Do you recall we almost lost Dr. Martin Luther King because he was stabbed by a woman at a book signing in 1958? Well that woman, Izola Ware Curry, died on Saturday at the age of 98.
Dr. King’s injuries were so close to his aorta that doctors told him, if he sneezed, he could have died. King would refer to the incident years later saying, “I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze.”
Had Curry lived, she who would have turned 99 in June.
Diagnosed criminally insane after she stabbed the civil rights activist, The Smoking Gun reports that Curry has lived in a series of homes since her release from the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
Following the dissolve of a six-month marriage in 1958, Curry moved from Georgia to New York and was suffering from delusions, paranoia and illogical thinking. One psychiatric report stated she, “believes she has been under constant surveillance and all her movements are known to the NAACP and Dr. King.”
As Dr. King was signing copies of his first book, “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story,” Curry approached him and pulled out a steel letter opener and plunged it into his upper chest.
She was also carrying a loaded gun on her person.
When Curry was asked later why she stabbed Dr. King, she said, “Because after all if it wasn’t him it would have been me, he was going to kill me.”
Below is a news article referencing the incident in 1958:
Dr. King issued a statement from the hospital as he was recovering:
“I feel no ill will toward Mrs. Izola Curry and know that thoughtful people will do all in their power to see that she gets the help she apparently needs if she is to become a free and constructive member of society.”
King referred to the incident years later, in his “Promised Land” speech, saying,
You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. Before I knew it, I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. That blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured, you drowned in your own blood, that’s the end of you. It came out in The New York Times the next morning that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died.
Curry died in New York City. Though no reason for her death has been issued, it could be assumed she died from natural causes.