The Edwin Forrest Play Reading Series: Who Stabbed King?


The Edwin Forrest Play Reading Series: Who Stabbed King?

The Edwin Forrest Play Reading series is in honor of Edwin Forrest, whose former home is the site of Freedom Theatre.  “The Edwin Forrest Play Reading series will take works that have been historically bypassed and explore them in a new diaspora by way of unique casting or vision,” Director, Adam Mace.  The series is presented monthly, on the fourth Monday. The next reading is scheduled for Monday, April 25th. New Freedom Theatre is pleased to offer the Edwin Forrest Play Reading series as FREE event.

The Edwin Forrest Play Reading Series: Who Stabbed King? is the second in the series, is directed by Eddie Shields. The reading was written by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, Guest Artistic Director at New Freedom Theatre. It is the story about the time Dr. King was stabbed in a Harlem Bookstore by Izola Ware Curry. Ms. Ware Curry, was a schizophrenic. Join us to hear more about this story and to learn aspects of this little known event in American history, the outcome for Ms. Ware Curry and the effect on the King family.

Briefly, Curry, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, believed that Dr. King, the NAACP, and civil rights activists were mixed up with Communists and torturing her. She attended Dr. King’s book signing for “Stride Toward Freedom” in New York, where she spoke briefly to Dr. King, then used a letter opener to brutally stab him in the left chest area. The doctors of Harlem Hospital later told the reverend that if he had sneezed, the instrument would have punctured his aorta and he would have bled to death.

Immediately after the incident, Curry was arrested. She was found to be carrying a handgun. Curry was charged with felonious assault and possession of firearms. She was, of course, found incompetent to stand trial and was transferred from Bellevue Hospital where she had been in observation, to a permanent home at the Matteawan State Hospital for the criminally insane.

Ten days after the incident. Dr. King, who was still hospitalized, publicly stated that he held no resentment toward Curry and that he had hoped she would receive the help she needed.*

*Source: Taylor, E. (2013). Little Known Black History Fact: Izola Ware Curry, Stabber of MLK. The Tom Joyner Morning Show


Join us for The Edwin Forrest Play Reading Series: Who Stabbed King? as we learn more about this incident in history, about the woman, her illness, and how the King family cared for Izola Ware Curry.  Audience discussion will follow the reading with a focus on the effects of mental illness in the African American community.


For more about the series, please click here