Martin Luther King Jr. – Early Life
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, to ReverendMartin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. His legal name at birth was “Michael King”. King’s father was also born Michael King. The father “changed” both names on his own during a 1934 trip to Nazi Germany to attend the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congressin Berlin. It was during this time he chose to be called Martin Luther King in honor of the great German reformer Martin Luther.
Martin, Jr., was a middle child, between an older sister, Willie Christine King, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams King. King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind.
King was originally skeptical of many of Christianity’s claims. At the age of thirteen, he denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus during Sunday school. From this point, he stated, “doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly”. However, he later concluded that the Bible has “many profound truths which one cannot escape” and decided to enter the seminary.
Growing up in Atlanta, King attended Booker T. Washington High School. A precocious student, he skipped both the ninth and the twelfth grades and entered Morehouse College at age fifteen without formally graduating from high school. In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a B.A. degree in sociology, and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary inChester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a B.Div. degree in 1951. King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents’ house in her hometown ofHeiberger, Alabama. They became the parents of four children: Yolanda King, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott King, and Bernice King. During their marriage, King limited Coretta’s role in the civil rights movement, and expected her to be a housewife.
King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, when he was twenty-five years old, in 1954. King then began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Ph.D. degree on June 5, 1955, with adissertation on “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman“. An academic inquiry concluded in October 1991 that portions of his dissertation had been plagiarized and he had acted improperly, but that his dissertation still “makes an intelligent contribution to scholarship”; the committee recommended that his degree not be revoked.