September 20, 1958
Harlem, Manhattan, New York
Izola Curry stabs Martin Luther King Jr. with a letter opener during a book signing
Curry, who later stated she believed King was a communist who was spying on her, approached King during the book signing. She asked if he was Martin Luther King and, when he confirmed he was, Curry took a 7-inch steel letter open and stabbed King. Curry was quickly apprehended and King hospitalized.
During King’s final speech, given April 3, 1968 (the day before his assassination), King spoke of how close to death he had come: “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’re drowned in your own blood — that’s the end of you.” He added the doctors told him if he had so much as sneezed, the blade would have killed him.
Curry was committed to a mental facility after she was found not mentally competent to stand trial. She lived out her years in various institutions, passing away at the age of 98 in 2015.
The letter opener used to stab King can be seen protruding from his chest