Martin Luther King Jr. Was Once Stabbed During a Book Signing

Martin Luther King Jr.

Prior to his death in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. survived a close brush with death many years earlier. During a public signing for his book, titled Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, King was stabbed by a woman named Izola Ware Curry. 
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curry wielded a seven-inch long metal letter opener and struck it right through King's chest. King was only 29 years old at the time and was completely defenseless. Curry stated at the scene of the crime, "I've been after him for six years...I'm glad I done it."

Curry was an unassuming 42-year-old African American woman, according to This left her completely inconspicuous among the crowd of King's followers. After confirming King's identity, Curry evidently stabbed King so forcefully that the blade snapped off the handle. King's response was pacifist in nature, as he remained calm and only showed concern for the public around him.

The previously mentioned article claims that Curry was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and spent the remainder of her life in psychiatric care. Although King survived the incident, the stabbing could have very easily turned fatal. According to the son of the surgeon who operated on King, "Had Dr. King sneezed or coughed, the weapon would have penetrated the aorta. He was just a sneeze away from death." Only ten years later, King was shot and killed on the balcony of his hotel room at 39 years of age.