The local doctor, Dr. Edward King and his family are on a mission to correct an injustice inflicted on his mother during the tumultuous days of Georgia’s civil rights movement in 1962.

According to family members, King’s mother, Marion King, then 29 years old and 5½ months pregnant, was beaten and kicked several times by police officers on July 23, 1962 while attempting to detain a family friend who was held in prison in Camilla, Georgia.

The friend was Ella Mae Young, a teenager, the daughter of the King family housekeeper. She was jailed for civil rights protests in Albany, Georgia.

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Marion King was accompanied to Camilla Prison that day by her children Edward, Jonathan and Abena, aged 1, 5 and 2, respectively.

Marion King’s baby was stillborn shortly before the due date in November.

Dr.  Edward King of Ocala holds a portrait of his late mother Marion in his office.  His mother was beaten and knocked unconscious while trying to help a detained family friend in Camilla, Georgia, in July 1962.  He and his family want the city to apologize for what happened.

“We want an apology from the City of Camilla and a memorial mentioning my mother and everyone who suffered civil rights battles there,” said Edward King, an urologist with advanced urology in Ocala and past president of the Marion County Medical Society.

Edward King was one of the speakers at the Camilla City Council meeting on September 13th. A councilor expressed sympathy, but the King family has not yet received an official response from the city.

The Star Banner emails to the Mayor of Camilla and two city council members were not returned. Messages left on the city-issued cellphones for Mayor Kelvin Owens and Councilor Corey Morgan have not been returned. The police did not want to comment either.

What happened on July 23, 1962

The Georgia Digital Library / Civil Rights Digital Library contains a copy of an interview Marion King gave to WSB TV reporter Richard Valeriani while she was hospitalized following the incident.

Five months pregnant, Marion King was in bed in 1962, the day after Camilla Police pushed, kicked, and punched her, causing her to pass out and her unborn child.

“In the clip, Marion King reports that two Camilla police officers knocked her to the ground and beat her while she was visiting protesters in Albany who were incarcerated in Camilla for overcrowding the Albany prison,” read a written summary of the news clip.

Marion King, who died in 2007 at the age of 74, wrote her memoir “Reflections on the Death of a Child”. In it, she wrote that she saw “unadulterated hatred” on the faces of those who attacked her when she held Abena and “had the other (child) in me”.

“I really feel that in the eyes of these cops we were much lower than the people,” wrote Marion King.

She also wrote that her husband Slater, who worked in the real estate business, said he “doesn’t always buy non-violence”. If he had been with her, he later said, he would have “had to die trying to protect me”.

After their attack, Marion King (third from left) signs up to vote while husband Slater (far right) and son Jonathan stand by.  Next to Mrs. King is Ella Mae Young, the imprisoned teenager she was visiting in Camilla when the robbery occurred.

“Mrs. King later became an attorney and served as the Atlanta City Associate Attorney under Mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young for 20 years. She died in 2007. Arrests were never made or community misconduct recognized, ”the King family said in a summary of the case.

Marion King’s children remember their memories once again

Jonathan King, now a retired college administrator living in Murrieta, Calif., Said in a telephone interview that he mostly remembers “shock waves” from the Camilla incident.

“(Police) barked, ‘Get out of the way,’ and (my mother) was knocked down and beaten,” he said.

Jonathan T. King, brother of Dr.  Edward DuBois King of Ocala, poses with civil rights icon Shirley M. Sherrod, who has written a declaration of support for the King family's monument offer in front of the Camilla City Council.

He said that he, his mother and two siblings were behind the prison when the police advanced, and that his mother was beaten from behind. He said his mother was just trying to bring clothes to Ella Mae.

“The city didn’t pay the hospital bills or take responsibility for the death of my siblings,” said Jonathan King, referring to his mother’s pregnancy.

He said he was traumatized again weeks later when his mother was driven out of the hospital with no baby in her arms. He never witnessed a funeral.

“Where’s the baby?” he remembers asking.

King said his mother was 100% Christian in her forgiveness and later joined the Baha’i faith. He said he never knew she had “a persistent malice”.

Pictured (left to right) are Jonathan, Abena and Edward Dubois King who witnessed the police attack on their pregnant mother Marion in July 1962.

Edward King said he was only 1 year old when the attack happened. He said his mother may have been pushed because someone felt “she wasn’t moving fast enough”.

“Nobody has ever been held accountable. My mother never had any ill will, “said Edward King.

In an email, Abena King said she remembered her mother “falling on her face” after being pushed.

“My only memory of the incident itself is that I fell to the ground and then my mother grabbed me and walked to the car. When we got back in the car, I felt great shame or embarrassment and noticed that my mother’s right knee was bleeding, ”she wrote.

The attack on Marion King was part of a larger struggle for civil rights

The background to the violation of Marion King are the civil rights protests in Albany, Georgia, which began in 1961 and became known as the Albany Movement.

Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Center website (kinginstitute.stabord.edu) points to the roots of the Albany movement, which began in October 1961 as members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, other groups, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Albany to “encourage the black community to take direct action against institutional segregation.”

The website states that nine Albany State College students held a sit-in at a bus station after teaching non-violent protest classes after the Interstate Commerce Commission banned the demarcation of bus terminals on November 1, 1961.

No student was arrested, but the protest inspired local leaders. And the Albany Movement, which aimed to end “all forms of racial segregation,” was formed, the website said.

Slater King was named the top official in the Albany Movement, and about 500 people had been detained due to protests by December 1961, the website said.

Martin Luther King Jr. was found guilty of holding an unauthorized parade on July 10, 1962 and sentenced to 45 days in prison. He was released two days later when his bail was paid.

The website states that King was arrested three times. And then, in August 1962, he ended his involvement with the Albany Movement. He later noted that the protests may have been more effective against “a single and diverse facet” of segregation than against segregation in general, the website said.

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The Camilla massacre

Camilla was also the location where racially accused murders in a tragedy known as the Camilla Massacre were committed on September 12, 1868.

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, during the post-Civil War reconstruction, 28 members of the Georgia state legislature were expelled for being at least one-eighth black.

A march of several hundred people, mostly black, from Albany to a square in Camilla, home of Mitchell County, was hit by gunfire. About a dozen protesters were killed.

When Edward King, Jonathan King and Clennon King, Marion King’s nephew, spoke at the Camilla City Council meeting on September 13, they not only asked for an apology for Marion King’s injury, but also for a memorial to mark the incident cited with Marion King, the Camilla massacre of 1868 and all violence inflicted during the struggle for civil rights.

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“A constant responsibility”

At that meeting on September 13, James Pratt, who represented the Albany, Georgia Chapter of the NAACP, read a letter from the Chapter Interim President to the King Family Assistance Council.

Clennon King told the council the ward has an “ongoing responsibility” to people like Marion King and their families.

Dr.  Edward King of Ocala owns this 1962 family portrait. It includes his brother Jonathan, left;  his mother Marion, second from left;  his father Slater, second from right;  his sister Abena, right;  and Edward, lower right.

The Mayor of Camilla, Kelvin Owens, and three of the six councilors of the City of Camila are black. Camilla is the county seat of Mitchell County and the city’s population is 71.7% black. According to Census.gov, the total population in 2020 was 5,187.

An unidentified councilor – the family said it was Corey Morgan – can be heard on a YouTube video of the council meeting saying he looks forward to working with the family on their inquiries.

The same councilor apologized “on his behalf” to the family, saying he was 26 years old and that it was the first time he had heard of the July 1962 events.