Martin Luther King Jr was one of America’s most influential civil rights activists. His passionate, but non-violent protests, helped to raise awareness of racial inequalities in America, leading to significant political change.
Martin Luther King was also an eloquent orator who captured the imagination and hearts of people, both black and white.
- Born: 15 January 1929, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
- Died: 4 April 1968, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
- Famous Speech: I Have a Dream
Martin Luther King’s Early Life
Born as Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. was the middle child of Michael King Sr. and Alberta Williams King.
The King and Williams families had roots in rural Georgia. Martin Jr.’s grandfather, A.D. Williams, was a rural minister for years and then moved to Atlanta in 1893.
He took over the small, struggling Ebenezer Baptist church with around 13 members and made it into a forceful congregation. He married Jennie Celeste Parks and they had one child that survived, Alberta.
Martin Sr. came from a family of sharecroppers in a poor farming community. He married Alberta in 1926 after an eight-year courtship. The newlyweds moved to A.D.’s home in Atlanta.
Martin Sr. stepped in as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church upon the death of his father-in-law in 1931. He too became a successful minister and adopted the name Martin Luther King Sr. in honour of the German Protestant religious leader Martin Luther. In due time, Michael Jr. would follow his father’s lead and adopt the name himself.