A decade before James Earl Ray leveled a rifle at Martin Luther King Jr., a deranged New York City woman tried to murder the civil rights leader by plunging a letter opener into his chest. This past Saturday (September 20) marked the 39th anniversary of the afternoon Izola Ware Curry assaulted King as he sat in a Manhattan department store signing copies of “Stride Toward Freedom,” his book about the Montgomery bus boycott.
Years later, when he gave his famous “Promised Land” speech (delivered to a Memphis crowd the day before his assassination), King recalled Curry’s 1958 attack. “Before I knew it, I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And 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 drown in your own blood–that’s the end of you.” King then added, “It came out in The New York Times the next morning that if I had sneezed, I would have died.”
How about that. I never heard this before.
Anybody know this before now?