Martin Luther King, Jr.: Biography And Facts About The Civil Rights Movement's Greatest Orator

(National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons)

Whether you were alive when Martin Luther King, Jr. was marching for freedom as a Baptist minister and activist or you've just been inspired by his groundbreaking work, you should know that his life is much more than marching and giving speechesHis work to end segregation and racism earned him a Nobel Peace Prize and a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, but he was more than a collection of his accomplishments. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who who fought to be the face of desegregation while under intense scrutiny from both allies and enemies.

Not Always A Martin, But Always A King

Georgia plays an important role in King's life, not only because that's where he first became a known entity but because it's where he was born. On January 15, 1929, Michael King, Jr. came into the world via Atlanta, Georgia. His family was made up of ministers and sharecroppers, and his father was the head pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church from the early '30s.

Following a trip to the Europe, where King's father witnessed the rise of Nazism, he knew he had to denounce the fascist regime. He changed his and his son's names in honor of the German protestant leader upon his return to the States in 1934, though Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth certificate wasn't changed until July 23, 1957.

Much of King's early life revolved around the scripture and violence. He read the Bible aloud daily and often found himself on the wrong end of his father's belt. According to his father, whenever he faced discipline, the young King stood still and quiet, taking the abuse without a word.

King was only a boy when he came face to face with brutal truth of racism. When he was six years old, he made friends with a young white boy, but when the two tried to play at the boy's house, the boy's parents forbid King from playing with their son. When King brought this up to his parents they explained racism to him as best as they could, and the young boy became determined to "hate every white person" until his parents explained that it was his Christian duty to love each and every human being, regardless of their beliefs.