Since the 1980s, Alveda King has been an outspoken advocate for the sanctity of human life. The granddaughter of Martin Luther King Sr., and the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., Alveda grew up in the church, yet her prominent last name didn’t shield her from the pain of divorce and other heartaches. But then she was born again, and her views on several key issues began to change as she read God’s Word through spiritual eyes. She spoke with Decision about her redemption story, as well as the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and what it means for the pro-life cause.
Q. You have been an advocate for the sanctity of human life for almost four decades. What emotions did you feel when you heard the high court had overturned Roe v. Wade?
A. I ran the full gamut of emotions. I wanted to cry, shout, scream, run, jump, and I did all of the above. I was among a group who had been praying and believing that this would eventually come about. However, I did not see this in the sense of, “We have won, it’s over.” We are going to have to go state by state, helping to transform hearts and minds. People have been lied to for so long and told that it’s OK to kill a baby in the womb. All of that has to be unraveled. So we have a task before us, but God is still with us.
Q. Even though you were raised in the church, you had several personal experiences with abortion early in life. Could you share that story, and how you eventually came to saving faith in Christ and found the forgiveness and clarity you were seeking?
A. In 1950, my mom conceived me as a freshman in college. She was not ready to birth a baby. She was engaged to my daddy. And she was really going to abort me. My grandfather, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Sr., said, “You can’t abort that baby. She’s going to bless many people.” So my mother listened. My parents were married and I was born the first of five children.
I grew up and got married and I had a baby. Then I got pregnant again. I went to ask for a pregnancy test and my doctor said, “That’s too soon. You don’t need another baby.” He did a local D&C without explaining to me what it was. That was my second baby and my first abortion. Now, I didn’t ask for an abortion; I asked for a pregnancy test. And then he referred me to Planned Parenthood. He said, “Go and they’ll help you to manage your family.”
When I got pregnant again, Roe v. Wade had just been decided. This was 1973. And Planned Parenthood advised me to get an abortion. “Oh, you’re not ready. You have your whole life ahead of you.” So, that’s how I had a second abortion. I believed it. They said, “Don’t talk to the church or your family. Don’t go to church, don’t go to your family. Come to us. We’ll help you.” So now here I am, pro-choice. And I remained pro-choice for the next several years, until 1983 when I accepted Jesus as my Lord, confessed all my sins, including the abortions, and became a voice for life. And so, I’ve been a voice for life since then.
Q. Were you converted to Christ while you were in the Georgia legislature?
A. I became born again the last year I was in the legislature. So, I was elected to office and I served two full terms, from 1978 to 1983, as a Democratic state representative in Georgia.
Q. How did your colleagues respond to your change of heart on the abortion issue?
A. Many people in 1983, when I began to ask the question, would say a woman has a right to choose what she does with her body. There were many people in the African American community at that time who agreed with my view because Planned Parenthood had not successfully indoctrinated the community to the level we have reached today. And believe it or not, Jesse Jackson, for example, gave one of the best pro-life speeches that America has ever heard. He later changed because the rabid feminists said, “Well, that’s OK. We hear what you said about the babies, but women need a champion, too.” So about the time that Jesse became pro-choice, that’s the time that I was becoming pro-life.
Q. There are likely women reading this article who have had an abortion and kept it under wraps, perhaps carrying the guilt of their decision through the years. Maybe they sit in church week after week without telling anyone. What encouragement would you have for these women?
A. As a 72-year-old woman, I would encourage any woman who has had an abortion and is troubled in her heart, who has maybe even carried it as a secret for years, if you’re having any feelings, any thoughts, go to God. Go to Jesus Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Ask forgiveness of God. You can do it by yourself. You can do it with your prayer partners. You can do it with your pastor, your leaders. But ask God to forgive you. There’s healing and there is strength when we go to God in prayer.
Q. Abortion seems to have had an outsized effect on the black community, beginning with the old eugenics movement. Do you see more African Americans waking up to this issue as an injustice?
A. The younger generation, including African Americans, young people now who are under 40—the younger they are, the more aware they are that injustices are occurring in this nation. They also understand that abortion is an injustice and a civil wrong.
Margaret Sanger, the founder of the Birth Control League, which became Planned Parenthood, once said that “colored people are like weeds” and they need to be eliminated. But they didn’t package it that way. Instead, they began to market abortion as a woman’s right.
Thankfully, more black women are beginning to keep their babies, and I’m very excited about that. I’m seeing the numbers go up and I believe that’s largely a result of the prayers in church communities like the Church of God in Christ, for example. I’m part of a group, the National Black Pro-Life Coalition, and we labor tirelessly to educate, inform and activate the black community about the civil rights of the unborn and the sanctity of life. We fight very hard to promote that message.
Q. Some people, like Abby Johnson, for example, have voiced their hope for a day when abortion is unthinkable for most people. How can we move in that direction, and what role do we as God’s people play in that?
A. We have to admit that we could have and should have been more prepared to serve families who have children and are going to need help. And we’re going to have to get the truth about abortion out. It’s our responsibility to do that. And so, as we continue to do these things, people’s hearts will change with prayer and repentance and compassion. That has to come.
And we have to support elected officials who will support programs to strengthen the family, and by that I mean a dad and mom together having children and raising those children. We have to support getting values and character back in our society and help people value themselves more and plan futures for life rather than death. All of these things are a beautiful opportunity and we can do this together.
Q. How do you find yourself praying for the country right now?
A. I am praying for those who are in authority first. I’m praying for transformation of the hearts of the people of America. I am praying that we will return to God and confess our own sins and repent and learn to serve each other as one human race, coming together, not accusing or ignoring or harming each other, but asking God to guide us. And I do actually believe we’re in the last days and because of that, I’m asking for the glorious church of God to rise up and serve as long as we’re here.
Photo: Courtesy of Alveda King