The Childhood of 
Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on Tuesday, January 15, 1929 at the family home in Atlanta, Georgia.  He lived with his parents, Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King, as well as his grandparents and his two siblings, Christine and Alfred Daniel Williams King.


The King children all took piano lessons from their mother.  They also enjoyed playing sports such as football and baseball and doing other odd jobs.  Martin was a paper boy and wanted to be a fireman when he grew up.  Their father was a Baptist minister and he was in charge of the children's moral and religious education.

From the time that Martin was born, he knew that black people and white people had different rights in certain parts America.  If a black family wanted to eat at a restaurant, they had to sit in a separate section of the restaurant.  They had to sit in the back of the movie theater, and even use separate restroom facilities.  He did not understand this.  The laws that kept black people and white people apart were called Jim Crow laws.

One day, Martin and his father went to buy some new shoes.  The clerk told them to go to the back of the store.  "We do not serve colored in the front of the store," he said.  Martin and his father proceeded to leave the store, as they knew that this was not respectful treatment.  Martin's mother told him, "even though some people make you feel bad or angry, you should not show it.  You are as good as anyone else."

At the age of five, Martin Luther King Jr. began school at Yonge Street Elementary School in Atlanta.  This, however, was before the legal school entrance age of six; thus, Martin was not allowed to continue his education until he turned six years old.  Following his education at Yonge Street Elementary School, he attended David T. Howard Elementary School.  He also attended the Atlanta University Laboratory School and Booker T. Washington High School.  He scored so high on his college entrance exam at Booker High School that he did not formally finish high school, he went on to college in his junior year of high school.
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