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  • Post last modified:October 5, 2020
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Martin Luther King Jr. was a scholar and minister who led the civil rights movement. After his assassination, he was memorialized with the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, held on the third Monday of January each year. As we prepare to celebrate his life and legacy, here are some things you may or may not know about this amazing individual. 

Martin Luther King Jr. 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. 

Michael King Sr. came from a family of sharecroppers in a poor farming community. In 1926 after an eight-year courtship, he married Alberta. The newlyweds moved to A.D. Williams’ home in Atlanta.

Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech.

Michael King 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 honor of the German Protestant religious leader Martin Luther. In due time, Michael Jr. would follow his father’s lead and adopt the name himself.

Young Martin had an older sister, Willie Christine, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams King. The King children grew up in a secure and loving environment. Martin Sr. was more the disciplinarian, while his wife’s gentleness easily balanced out the father’s strict hand. 

Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen. In 1948 he received the B. A. degree from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had graduated. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951. 

Headshot of Martin Luther King Jr.

With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955. In Boston, he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments. Two sons and two daughters were born into the family. 

The Martin Luther King Jr Legacy 

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and civil-rights activist who had a seismic impact on race relations in the United States, beginning in the mid-1950s. 

Among his many efforts, King headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Through his activism and inspirational speeches, he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the United States, as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honors.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated. He continues to be remembered as one of the most influential and inspirational African-American leaders in history.

Martin Luther King Jr on a balcony with a few friends.

Take Time to Reflect

At Paradiso Insurance, we feel that it’s important to honor those that have paved the way for many of the freedoms we enjoy. We encourage you to take the time to learn about all of our great leaders.