19    Jan 20090 comments

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther KingHappy Martin Luther King Day to all of our American friends! All of us know about Dr. King and all the work he did to further equal rights for Americans. But not as many of us know about his family, and there are some interesting stories to be found if you dig deep enough. To commemorate this day, we'll explore some of lesser-known stories from Dr. King's family history: his family's close connection with Ebenezer Baptist Church and the influence of his grandfather, Rev. Adam Williams.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was actually born Michael King, Jr. in 1924 in Atlanta, Georgia. His name was changed ten years later, after his family visited Eisleben, Germany. This is the birthplace of Martin Luther, who founded Protestantism. Michael King Sr. changed both his name and his son's name to Martin Luther in honor of him.

King came from a very close-knit family with a long line of preachers. He was born in his grandparents' house because his parents had moved in with his mother's parents after they were married. Growing up with his brother and sister, parents, and grandparents, and living in a house with two pastors, instilled strong family and religious values in young Martin, and it was these values shaped his ideas and speeches later in life.

Martin Luther KingLater, King attended Morehouse College, where his father and grandfather, and later his son, studied. Following in the family footsteps, he became a pastor. His brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all pastors; his daughter is also a pastor, and all of them ministered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta during their careers. Ebenezer Baptist, just two blocks away from the family home, is where King is buried and where his mother was killed in 1974. The church still stands, although the King family does not currently have a pastor in residence.

Rev. Adam Daniel Williams, King's grandfather on his mother's side, was born in 1893 in Georgia. Williams' father was a pastor and a slave, making him the only one of King's grandparents to be born to slaves. King's other grandfather James Albert King was born in 1864 in Ohio, a free state, and both his grandmothers, Delia Linsey (1875-1924) and Jenny Celeste Parks (1873-1941), were born after the Civil War.

Martin Luther KingRev. Williams was famous for his passionate sermons, which brought many new people into his church. He was a founding member of the Atlanta branch of the NAACP, and was a leader in fighting for civil rights in schools and elsewhere. Martin Luther King, Jr. was following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps in pushing for equality, and his legacy is the culmination of more than three generations of his own family, plus innumerable efforts from others over the years. MyHeritage hopes you will come closer to your family and friends on this special American holiday.

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