MADISON, Wis. — An incredibly influential and dynamic man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is famous for his achievements in civil rights advancement for African-Americans in the United States during the late 1950s and 1960s. The general public is more familiar with King’s later life, including his peaceful protests, the “I Have a Dream” speech, and his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at a young age. However, King had a similarly important childhood that would later influence his passion for civil rights. Coming from a long line of Christian preachers, he had been taught from an early age that all men were created equal, yet saw a large gap in how the white children were being treated and how he was being treated. Here are five young photos of Martin Luther King, Jr., progressing from his youngest photo as a child, to his wedding day.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born as “Michael King Jr.” on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Ga. However, his father changed their first names to Martin and added “Luther” to his name as well as his son’s name as a tribute to Martin Luther, who was a Protestant leader in Germany in the 16th century. Both his father, Martin Luther King, Sr., and his mother, Alberta Williams King, were reverends.
Photo: MLK at Stanford
King had an older sister, Willie Christine King, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams King. His family was very religious due to the lineage of preachers. He says in his biography, “My father is a preacher, my grandfather was a preacher, my great-grandfather was a preacher, my only brother is a preacher, my daddy’s brother is a preacher.” Though he had a generally good childhood, from a young age, King saw firsthand the tough realities of the Jim Crow laws: the King family was ushered out of shoe stores because of their race, and he lost a young friendship due to racial differences.
Photo: Reading Rainbow
Although King did not graduate high school from Booker T. Washington, he had very high scores on the college entrance exams during his junior year of high school, and was admitted to Morehouse College at the age of 15. King graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 with a B.A. in sociology. The photo above is King with his sister after they both graduated from college.
Sources: LSU Library
Photo: Huffington Post
Graduate School Graduation
After graduating from Morehouse, King enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Penn., and then also enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania. He was very successful at both schools and received many recognitions and awards. After graduating from Crozer, he began doctoral studies in Systematic Theology at Boston University in 1951, and then completed his doctorate in 1955 after his dissertation,”A Comparison of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Wieman.”
Source: LSU Library
King and Corretta Scott met in Boston in January of 1952. Their first conversation was over the telephone, and they were married in Marion, Ala. by his father on her parent’s lawn.
Source: MLK Jr. at Stanford