It was the summer of 1970. My Uncle Johnny was the associate minister of the largest black church in Atlanta: Wheat Street Baptist Church. The church owned a housing project, and my uncle was taking the receipts from that day’s money. On the way to the bank, someone walked up to him and shot him for the money. He immediately hit the ground and died.
My aunt who was also a minister was a polio victim. Aunt Betty relied on Johnny to do a lot for her around the house and in her life. She was not able to cope with his death. In August Uncle Johnny was murdered, and in January my aunt died. It was a loss of both an aunt and an uncle. They were childless, and my father had abandoned our family when I was seven. I was 21 at the time, and Uncle Johnny had been my father figure. I was married in December with a heavy heart: Uncle Johnny would not be at my wedding.
When Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, my uncle chose to go back to the South and work, so I thought of my uncle this Martin Luther King weekend.