Birmingham Civil Rights Foot Soldier Lady BJ Love King Passes
Birmingham, AL June 30, 2018 - Lady B.J. Love King, jailed as a child in the 1960's Birmingham Movement and an outspoken advocate of civil and human rights via her community service and radio show, has died from heart failure. She was 72.
There is the King Family of Atlanta, and Betty Jane King from the King Family of Birmingham, who were actively involved in the Birmingham Movement of 1963 under the dynamic leadership of her father, Rev. Floyd King Sr. He was among the leading ministers of Birmingham during that time with Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who along with the better-known Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Ralph Abernathy of Atlanta, was one of the "Big Three" of the Movement that galvanized ordinary men, women and children from their churches in a sustained, non-violent struggle to liberate themselves from racial oppression and gain equal rights for African American citizens.
Ms. King and her siblings were among the Birmingham children leaders inspired by these legendary icons to play an active role in the Movement. She was arrested and jailed in protests and sang songs of hope and defiance along with other children of the Movement who faced the dogs and water hoses, and constant threats of violence for taking their stand. She participated in, sit-ins at whites-only counters in Birmingham's big downtown department stores, kneel-ins at white churches who refused black people's entry. Her sister Carolyn L King (Tasmiya Miller) was the first black student to integrate then all-white public Jones Valley High School in 1964.
Despite the church bombing that killed four girl, it was the children, she had said, who were not afraid and made the difference then. The same must happen in today's troubling times.
“We must come together and inspire the ‘NOW Generation,’ and help our youth and young adults understand all that it took to overcome obstacles such as racial prejudice, segregation, degradation, and more during the struggle,” said Lady BJ Love King (her radio alias) when her radio show, “From the Mountain 2 The Valley Civil Rights Radio Broadcast," hit the airwaves in Jan. 2012. It was at the time the only national call-in talk show devoted exclusively to the history of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama, and beyond. It started on WJLD-AM Radio 1400 in Birmingham, known as the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement.
As a young adult, Ms. King married James Calhoun, a military man of Huey Town. The couple moved to Brooklyn, New York and bore two lovely children, James Steven (Jay) and Chandra Calhoun (Chanti) who are both residents of Birmingham. For more than 20 years, Lady BJ Love worked at the Brooklyn Veterans Affairs Medical Center's rehabilitation Department as a certified physical therapist. She was known as the singing lady with the healing hands.
Lady BJ Love followed in her father's footsteps into radio ministry, learning the ins and outs of music, singing, speaking and being an on-air personality. She became his co-host on Radio Station WKDM 1380 AM, NYC for over twenty years and carried forth gospel radio programming in various cultures, coining the phrase “Gospelipso,” a fusion of Southern American gospel and Caribbean music. Lady BJ Love was best known in New York City for her screen writing capabilities of the award-winning play “Hallelujah New Orleans,” where jazz meets gospel, performed at the world-famous Cotton Club in Harlem. It ran for two seasons with awards, honors and citations following.
After her daughter survived the 9/11 World Trade Center Attack in 2001, she with her family returned to her hometown of Birmingham.
Lady BJ Love returned to the air waves on WJLD AM 1400 where you could hear her legendary voice every Sunday morning on the radio, “Great Legends in Gospel,” with co-host Mr. Butch McDaniels. They were later joined by her grandson, young master Caleb Neverson. He now hosts his own radio show and carries on the family's broadcasting legacy.
Lady BJ Love was active in a number of organizations and groups dedicated to social justice and community organizations involved with community programming, voter registration campaigns, the Birmingham Metro NAACP, city cleanups, mentoring youth, hands-on-deck to stop violence, shooting deaths of unarmed black men, Black Youth Vote, working with People With Disabilities and of course, Black Lives Matter.
In 2002, she was honored with a ‘Key to The City’ by Birmingham City Council for “…sacrifices and dedication she rendered to encourage fair and equal treatment for all people,” and for her personal, frontline contributions to the Birmingham Civil Rights Campaign.
In 2011, she received "The Rosa Parks Resolution” – an Official Pardon for her jailing during the 1963 Children Crusade Movement – by the Birmingham City Council. And in 2012, she started the Civil Rights Radio Show with Sephira Shuttlesworth, the widow of Rev. Shuttlesworth, who wanted to ensure that her husband’s legacy in the Movement was accurately written in history books and passed down to future generations.
Lady BJ's mission was to keep alive the stories of the past movement, in activities like Supper with The Foot Soldiers at a local black-owned restaurant, to encourage and embolden a new generation to learn from her generation's struggle as it faced, unfortunately, the same old challenges in new ways.
The Family appreciates your support and contributions in covering immediate expenses. The LADY BJ LOVE KING MEMORIAL FUND has been created and you can make contributions directly to https://www.gofundme.com/lady-bj-love-king-memorial-fund.
Watch this page for future projects. Thank you.
Funeral Arrangements for the Passing of Lady BJ Love King
WHEN: Private Family Hour Friday, June 29, 2018 starting at 5 PM
Memorial Service Saturday, June 30, 2018, at 11 AM
WHERE: Greater St. John Baptist Church
2401 Carlos Avenue SW
Birmingham, AL 35211
Phone (205) 925-5975