Martin King Jr.
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Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968)

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Born in 501 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 18 Jun 1953 in Alabama City, Etowah, Alabama, United Statesmap
Father of , [private son (1950s - unknown)], and [private daughter (1960s - unknown)]
Died at age 39 in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 1 Feb 2012
This page has been accessed 29,608 times.
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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., clergyman, non-violent activist, and possibly the greatest orator and leader of the American civil rights movement, was assassinated in 1968 while in the service of his cause.[1][2]


Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King.[2][3][4] His legal name at birth was Michael King, which was also his father's given name. King Sr. decided to change both his and his son's names during a 1934 trip to Germany to attend the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin. He chose to be called Martin Luther King in honor of the great German religious reformer Martin Luther. Martin Jr. legally changed his name on July 23, 1959.[5]

Martin, Jr. was a middle child, between an older sister, Willie Christine King, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams King.[6][7][8] Martin and his siblings attended segregated schools in Atlanta. In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse College, the same college his father and grandfather had attended, with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He earned a Bachelors of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary in 1951, and was president of his class. He received his doctorate from Boston University in 1955.[2] It was in Boston that he met his wife, Coretta Scott.[2] They married on 18 June 1953 at Coretta's father's home in Alabama, with Martin's father officiating.[9][10] They had four children.[3]

Martin's family had a legacy of serving as pastors of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia: his maternal grandfather, Adam Daniel Williams, pastored Ebenezer from 1894 until his death in 1931, and Martin's father did so from 1927-1975, starting as his father-in-law's assistant pastor. Martin began his own ministry in 1954, when he became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He then became a part of his family's legacy at Ebenezer Baptist Church, serving as assistant pastor for his father from 1960 until his death in 1968.[11]


Activists and Reformers poster
Martin King Jr. was a part of the US Civil Rights Activists Movement.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods in the face of harassment, threats, and violence, following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.[12]

King became a civil rights activist early in his career as Baptist minister. By 1954, he was a member of the executive committee of the NAACP.[2] He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, which led the United States Supreme Court to finally declare bus seating segregation unconstitutional.[2][12] King and his family were persecuted for his persistence.[2]
US Black Heritage Project
Martin King Jr. was awarded the Spingarn Medal for outstanding achievement by an African American.

He helped to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president.[2][12] That year the NAACP awarded him the Spingarn Medal.[1] From 1957 to 1964, Dr. King traveled extensively, speaking for civil rights and equality, all the while writing five books and numerous articles.[2] During one of his engagements in Birmingham, Alabama, a city noted at the time as one of the most segregated, he was arrested, and wrote his stirring "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."[2][12]

King's efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his most famous and moving speech, "I Have a Dream."[2][12] With it, he expanded and uplifted American values to include his vision of a color-blind society; it solidified his reputation as one of the greatest orators in history. He was named Time magazine's "Man of the Year" in 1963.[2][12][13]

In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other nonviolent means. He turned the prize money over to organizations to further the fight for civil rights.[2]

By 1968, King had refocused his efforts to include ending poverty and stopping the Vietnam War.[12]

Death and Legacy

In Memphis, Tennessee, while working in support of equal pay for Black sanitation workers, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, on the balcony of his Lorraine Motel room.[2][12][4] His funeral in Atlanta was widely attended.[12] His body was interred at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center.[4]

He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.[14] He and his wife Coretta were posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in 2004, which was presented to their children in 2014 and is now housed in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture.[15]

King's efforts have been memorialized with countless statues, and streets, schools, and geographical places named for him. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. national holiday in 1986. He is the only non-president to have a national holiday named in his honor.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wikipedia: Martin Luther King Jr.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 Martin Luther King, Jr, Accessed 11 Jan 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Richard Foster, "Dr. King Lived His Dream That 'All Men Are Created Equal,'" Omaha World-Herald [Nebraska], citing Chicago Sun-Times Service, 5 Apr 1968, page 13; image copy, ( : accessed 19 Nov 2023).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Find A Grave, database and images: accessed 11 January 2018), memorial page for Dr Martin Luther King, Jr (15 Jan 1929–4 Apr 1968), Find A Grave: Memorial #582, citing Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA; Maintained by Find A Grave.
  5. DeNeen L. Brown, "The story of how Michael King Jr. became Martin Luther King Jr.," The Washington Post, 15 Jan 2019, : accessed 19 Nov 2023.
  6. "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch Marvin L King Jr. in household of Marvin L King, Atlanta, Fulton, Georgia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 63, sheet 20A, line 29, family 190, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 361; FHL microfilm 2,340,096.
  7. "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch. Martin L King in household of Marvin L King, Ward 5, Atlanta, Atlanta City, Fulton, Georgia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 160-241, sheet 13B, line 62, family 268, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 733.
  8. "United States Census, 1950," database with images, FamilySearch. Martin L. King Jr. in household of Martin L. King Sr., ED 160-464, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United States; citing ED 160-464, sheet 75, line 18, dwelling 124.
  9. Jerry Talmer, "King Learned Early Nearness of Death," The Indianapolis News, [Indiana], 10 Apr 1968, page 13, columns 1-3; image copy, ( : accessed 19 Nov 2023).
  10. "Alabama County Marriages, 1809-1950", database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 19 Nov 2023), Martin Luther King and Coretto Scott, 18 Jun 1953, citing microfilm #1892853, image 709.
  11. "Our History," Ebenezer Baptist Church, : accessed 18 Nov 2023.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 12.9 About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Accessed 11 Jan 2018.
  13. "America's Gandhi: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.," Time, 3 Jan 1964; digital version, Time : accessed 18 Nov 2023.
  14. "Presidential Medal of Freedom Announcement of Award to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dr. Jonas E. Salk," 4 Jul 1977; The American Presidency Project, ( : accessed 19 Nov 2023).
  15. "Congressional Gold Medal for Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King," National Museum of African American History & Culture, : accessed 19 Nov 2023.

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Comments: 25

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Can someone change this background? It's really bad. I can't read the profile at all.
posted by Savanna King
What background are you referring to? I don't see any?
posted by Dorjän Scott
It's gone now, I guess someone did 😅
posted by Savanna King
Odd, I can't see any changes doing that but earlier it had a background that was a repeated image and made it really hard to read. Not sure if it was cached or what.
posted by Savanna King
Hello Profile Managers!

We are featuring this profile in the Connection Finder this week. Between now and Wednesday is a good time to take a look at the sources and biography to see if there are updates and improvements that need made, especially those that will bring it up to WikiTree Style Guide standards. We know it's short notice, so don't fret too much. Just do what you can.



posted by Abby (Brown) Glann
It's my fav writer. I knew about him from my father when I was too young to understand his works. I forgot about him, but then I got homework about his book "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." I didn't want to read it, but after researching some papers here I realized all the power of this author in literature circles. But I don't see here all the biography, maybe I can add some info?
posted by Larry Gringy
edited by Larry Gringy
Martin Luther King, Jr., original name Michael King, Jr. according to

Just now caught my eye when I was googling something else. And I see that in his father's profile it is stated: "Born Michael Luther King on Dec. 19, 1899, in Henry County, he changed his name and his son's to honor the famous German theologian Martin Luther in 1934, when his son was 5 years old."

posted by Mary Gossage
edited by Mary Gossage
Thank you, Mary. The name change is documented under the family section of the biography.
posted by Dorjän Scott
Hi Dorjän. Uh huh. Clearly I missed that skimming through the biography Was mostly checking it out the profile for formatting. Didn't carefully read the bio (obviously!) seeing that it is already done well - content, formatting, and layout. <smile>
posted by Mary Gossage
I had done some information on James Albert King and his father was also named James, but may have had a different surname. Megyn Smolneyak took some of my research and made it into a Huffington Post article if you want to google it (I raised my objections in comment section).
posted by Michael Meggison
His "I Have a Dream" speech (the written part) was not finished until 3:30 am the morning of the speech. He still made it to the march. The officials thought legislation would be harmed and that dogs would have to be turned lose, hoses would be turned on and there would be mass problems. None of these happened. None of the plugs had to be pulled even. He read his speech but the I have a dream part was not on the paper. After reading what was written, he began to speak and that is when they listened. He is quoted as saying "The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict." Meltzer, Brad, Heroes for my son, pgs 20-21, Harper Collins Publishing
posted by Lisa (Kelsey) Murphy
According to Wikipedia Martin Luther King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind.
posted by Ed Burke

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This week's featured connections are Fathers: Martin is 17 degrees from James Madison, 28 degrees from Konrad Adenauer, 22 degrees from Charles Babbage, 24 degrees from Chris Cornell, 22 degrees from Charles Darwin, 21 degrees from James Naismith, 29 degrees from Paul Otlet, 25 degrees from Henry Parkes, 28 degrees from Eiichi Shibusawa, 30 degrees from William Still, 24 degrees from Étienne-Paschal Taché and 20 degrees from Cratis Williams on our single family tree. Login to see how you relate to 33 million family members.