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Izola Ware Curry, The Woman Who Stabbed Martin Luther King In 1958, Has Died

03/17/2015 12:30 pm ET | Updated Mar 18, 2015
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Izola Ware Curry, the woman who attempted to kill Martin Luther King Jr. by stabbing him with a steel letter opener in 1958, has reportedly died. She was 98.

Curry, who was mentally disturbed, died at Hillside Manor nursing home in Queens, New York, where she spent many years of her life, The Smoking Gun reported.

Curry nearly killed King in 1958 after she attacked the civil rights leader at a book-signing event in Harlem, New York. Reports show that she suffered from paranoia and delusions, and was described by psychiatrists as having a "severe state of insanity."

Her intent to kill King was based on her belief that he and the NAACP were conspiring against her, denying her employment and keeping a watchful eye on her whereabouts.

In retaliation, Curry walked into the book-signing event on Sept. 20, 1958, and carried out a failed assassination attempt against King ten years before he was killed by James Earl Ray. Curry, who was armed with a loaded pistol, opted to use a 7-inch letter opener when she directly approached King, and pierced him in the chest.

King was immediately taken to Harlem Hospital, and addressed the stabbing upon his recovery.

“I feel no ill will toward Mrs. Izola Curry 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," King said at a press conference held in his hospital room days after the attack.

Curry was taken into state custody and spent many years at the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. She was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Upon her release from state custody, she spent the remainder of her years at various nursing homes throughout the state.

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