January 26, 1995 in Nation/World

Woman Reveals Affair With King Retired Lawmaker Says She Was With Civil Rights Leader The Night Before He Was Slain

Associated Press

The first black to serve in Kentucky’s Senate confirmed Wednesday that she was with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. the night before his assassination.

Georgia Powers writes of her yearlong relationship with King in her new autobiography, “I Shared the Dream.” It is in line with previous reports - allegedly started by the FBI that the civil rights leader had affairs.

The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, King’s lieutenant in the civil rights movement, created a furor five years ago when he suggested in his memoirs that King cheated on his wife.

Abernathy, who died in 1990, also wrote of a liaison King had the night before his death with “a black woman … a member of the Kentucky Legislature,” but did not identify the woman by name. The book was widely criticized by other civil rights activists.

Powers is apparently the first woman to say she had an affair with King. She retired in 1988.

“We tried to keep our relationship as quiet as possible but his staff members knew about it,” Powers said in an interview Wednesday.

Their final encounter, she said, was on April 3, 1968, the night before he was shot to death while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. She had a room there at the time of the assassination.

King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, and her son, Dexter, were reported to be in South Korea and unavailable for comment.

In her autobiography, the 71-year-old Powers writes that the relationship with King began in March 1967, more than three years after they met at a Frankfort civil rights march.

“The relationship between Martin Luther King Jr. and I began with mutual admiration,” she wrote. “Gradually, our attachment grew stronger until it passed beyond camaraderie into intimacy.”

The book does not indicate how often she and King were together.

Powers wrote they were cautious about the affair, but she momentarily forgot when King was being loaded into an ambulance after he was shot.

“When they put Dr. King into the ambulance, I instinctively began climbing in to go with him. Andy Young gently pulled me back. ‘No, Senator,’ he said, ‘I don’t think you want to do that.”’

Andrew Young later became the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Atlanta mayor. Powers said she received a small advance from the publisher, New Horizon Press, and will get royalties from sales. The book is scheduled for release in March but is already available in some stores.

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