World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Izola Curry

Izola Curry
Born Izola Ware
(1916-06-14)June 14, 1916
Adrian, Georgia, U.S.
Died March 7, 2015(2015-03-07) (aged 98)
Hillside Manor Nursing Home, Jamaica Estates, New York, U.S.
Occupation Housekeeper
Known for 1958 assassination attempt on Martin Luther King, Jr.
Spouse(s) James Curry (m.1937; divorced)

Izola Curry (née Ware; June 14, 1916 – March 7, 2015) was an American woman who attempted to assassinate the

  • "When Harlem Nearly Killed King: The 1958 Stabbing of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Amazon page for the book on the incident

External sources

  1. ^ a b c Curry, Izola Ware profile,; accessed March 27, 2015.
  2. ^ Hugh Pearson. When Harlem Nearly Killed King: The 1958 Stabbing of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. pg.49. "1958 ... forty-two-year-old Negro woman named Izola Curry.."
  3. ^ a b "The Woman Who Tried To Murder Dr. King".  
  4. ^ a b Michael Daly (January 20, 2014). "The Black and White Men Who Saved Martin Luther King’s Life".  
  5. ^ "King's Biography".  
  6. ^ "press release".  
  7. ^ "The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., digitized volume 4".  
  8. ^ "Izola Ware Curry, "Demented Black Woman" Who Nearly Killed Martin Luther King, Jr., Dies At 98". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  9. ^  


See also

Curry spent nearly 14 years at Matteawan before being transferred in March 1972 to the Manhattan Psychiatric Center on Ward’s Island in upper Manhattan. She spent about a year there before officials placed her in the Rosedale, Queens home of a woman certified through the state’s “Family Care” program to provide residential care for those diagnosed with mental illnesses. After a fall resulting in a leg injury, Curry was placed in the Jamaica, Queens, New York nursing home, where she resided until her death.[3] Curry died on March 7, 2015 of natural causes.[8][9]

Curry was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic by two psychiatrists who reported that she had an IQ of 70, “low average intelligence,” and was in a severe “state of insanity.” A Manhattan judge would later concur with the psychiatrists’ conclusion that Curry—who had been indicted for attempted murder—should be committed to the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.


As it happened, one of the cops was black, the other white and the same was the case with the two surgeons. Each pair worked as true partners, proving that the color of their skin meant nothing and translating the content of their character into life-saving action.[4]

While still in the hospital, King said in a September 30 press release in which he reaffirmed his belief in "the redemptive power of nonviolence" and issued a hopeful statement about his attacker, "I felt no ill will toward Mrs. Izola Currey [sic] and know that thoughtful people will do all in their power to see that she gets the help she apparently needs if she is to become a free and constructive member of society."[6] On October 17, after hearing King's testimony, a grand jury indicted Curry for attempted murder.[7] Reportage recalling the event on the occasion of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2014, noted:

"Days later", King wrote in his posthumously published autobiography, "when I was well enough to talk with Dr. Aubrey Maynard, the chief of the surgeons who performed the delicate, dangerous operation, I learned the reason for the long delay that preceded surgery. He told me that the razor tip of the instrument had been touching my aorta and that my whole chest had to be opened to extract it. 'If you had sneezed during all those hours of waiting,' Dr. Maynard said, 'your aorta would have been punctured and you would have drowned in your own blood.'"[5]

New York City Police Department officers Al Howard and Phil Romano were in a radio car near the end of their tour at 3:30 pm when they received a report of a disturbance in Blumstein’s Department store. They arrived to see King sitting in a chair with an ivory handled letter opener protruding from his chest. Howard was heard telling King, "Don’t sneeze, don’t even speak." Howard and Romano took King still in the chair down to an ambulance that took King to Harlem Hospital, which was already notifying chief of thoracic and vascular surgery John W. V. Cordice, Jr., who was in his office in Brooklyn, and trauma surgeon Emil Naclerio, who had been attending a wedding and arrived still in a tuxedo. They made incisions and inserted a rib spreader, making King’s aorta visible. Chief of Surgery Aubre de Lambert Maynard then entered and attempted to pull out the letter opener, but cut his glove on the blade; a surgical clamp was finally used to pull out the blade.[4]

King went on a tour to promote Strive Toward Freedom after it was published. During a book signing at a department store in Harlem, a well-dressed woman approached and asked him if he was Martin Luther King, Jr. When King replied in the affirmative, she said, "I've been looking for you for five years," then stabbed him in the chest with a steel letter opener.

Assassination attempt

Curry began suffering from delusions, paranoia, and illogical thinking for several years before she sought to kill King. This erratic state appears to have contributed to her difficulties in securing and maintaining employment. [3] near [2][1] Curry was one of eight children born to sharecroppers in 1916

Early life


  • Early life 1
  • Assassination attempt 2
  • Aftermath 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • External sources 6

[1] (NAACP).National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Shortly after moving, she developed delusions about the [1]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.