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Biography On Martin Luther King Jr Martin Luther King Jr January 15 1929--April 4 1968 minister and civil rights leader Born Michael King Jr in Atlanta on January 15 1929 the first son of a Baptist minister and the grandson of a Baptist minister King and his forebears exemplified the African-American social gospel tradition that would shape his career as a reformer Kings maternal grandfather the Rev A D Williams had transformed Ebenezer Baptist Church a block down the street from his grandsons childhood home into one of Atlantas most prominent black churches In 1906 Williams had joined such figures as Atlanta University scholar W E B Du BOIS and African Methodist Episcopal AME bishop Henry McNeal Turner to form the Georgia Equal Rights League an organization that condemned lynching segregation in public transportation and the exclusion of black men from juries and state militia In 1917 Williams helped found the Atlanta branch of the NAACP later serving as the chapters president Williamss subsequent campaign to register and mobilize black voters prodded white leaders to agree to construct new public schools for black children After Williamss death in 1931 his son-in-law Michael King Sr also combined religious and political leadership He became president of Atlantas NAACP led voter-registration marches during the 1930s and spearheaded a movement to equalize the salaries of black public school teachers with those of their white counterparts In 1934 King Sr--perhaps inspired by a visit to the birthplace of Protestantism in Germany--changed his name and that of his son to Martin Luther King Despite the younger Kings admiration for his fathers politically active ministry he was initially reluctant to accept his inherited calling Experiencing religious doubts during his early teenage years he decided to become a minister only after he came into contact with religious leaders who combined theological sophistication with social gospel advocacy At Morehouse College which King attended from 1944 to 1948 the colleges president Benjamin E MAYS
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