Born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, Martin Luther King Jr. was born of Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and his mother, Alberta Williams King, who was also a reverend.
King grew up in what has become known as the “Williams House” named after his grandfather, the Reverend A.D. Williams. The house was originally built in 1895 but Williams and his wife Jennie bought it in 1909. The Reverend was a pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was right down the street from his new home.
But MLK was originally known as Michael King Jr., after his dad. The family visited Germany on a European trip in 1934, and upon their arrival back home, Reverend King added Luther to his name and his young son’s as a tribute to Martin Luther, a Protestant leader in Germany.
But the family was quickly schooled on the harsh reality of the racial segregation of the south. A family outing to a shoe store resulted in the family being ushered to the back exit after being told by the storeowner that blacks were not allowed in the store. This was one of Martin Luther King’s first episodes that were a result of the Jim Crow laws that were in effect at that time.
Originally meant to create an equal foothold for everyone, the Jim Crow laws came to be known as living proof of day-to-day racial discrimination. Blacks were not allowed in restaurants, could not drink from the same water fountains as white people and suffered humiliating injustices at the hands of white people in the south. It was the experiences of these early childhood days that led Martin Luther King Jr. to his passionate crusade for equality.