Martin Luther King Jr.

Essay by sscool14High School, 11th gradeA, February 2005

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15 January 1929 in his maternal grandparents' large Victorian house on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the second of three children, and was first named Michael, after his father. Both changed their names to Martin when the boy was still young. King's paternal grandfather, James Albert King, had been a sharecropper near the small town of Stockbridge, Georgia, outside Atlanta. Like most sharecroppers, he had worked hard and earned little. King, Sr. was the second of ten children. He had left Stockbridge for Atlanta at the age of sixteen, with nothing but a sixth-grade education and a pair of shoes.

In Atlanta he worked odd jobs and studied, and slowly developed a reputation as a preacher. While preaching at two small churches outside of Atlanta, he met Alberta Christine Williams, his future wife, and King, Jr.'s mother. She was a graduate of Atlanta's Spelman College, had attended the Hampton Institute in Virginia, and had returned to Atlanta to teach.

Her father, the Reverend Adam Daniel Williams, presided over Atlanta's well-established Ebenezer Baptist Church.

When King, Sr. and Williams married, they moved into the Williams home on Auburn Avenue, the main street of Atlanta's African American business district. After some time had passed, her father asked King, Sr. to serve as assistant pastor at Ebenezer, which he did. When the senior pastor died of a heart attack in 1931, King, Sr. took over his duties.

King, Jr. and his siblings were born into a financially secure middle-class family, and thus they received better educations than the average child of their race; King's recognition of this undoubtedly influenced him in his decision to live a life of social protest, extending the opportunities he had enjoyed to all blacks. In his...