Woman Who Almost Killed MLK in ’58 Dead at 98

The Smoking Gun is reporting that Izola Ware Curry, the “demented” African American woman who attempted to kill Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a letter opener in 1958, has died.

Curry was 98 when she passed. She famously attempted to kill Dr. King during a book signing, ten years before he would later be assassinated by James Earl Ray. Prior to the stabbing Curry had begun to suffer from delusions, believing King and the NAACP were spying on her. After the attempt she was interned at the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, and later moved from group home to group home in anonymity. She was living in a nursing home facility when she died.

Curry would have turned 99 in June.

Wrote the Smoking Gun:

One of eight children born to sharecroppers in Georgia, Curry moved to New York City following the demise of her six-month marriage. According to court, police, and psychiatric records, Curry suffered from delusions, paranoia, and illogical thinking in the years leading up to her attempt to murder King. An October 1958 psychiatric report noted that Curry “believes she has been under constant surveillance and all her movements are known to the NAACP and Dr. King.”

Convinced that King and NAACP leaders were monitoring her movements and conspiring to deny her employment, Curry approached the civil rights leader as he sat in a Harlem department store signing copies of his first book.

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