Martin Luther King Jr.'s Family Tree

Today we celebrate and honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Born on Jan 15 1929, he would now be 92 years old. Like many great leaders, his family history greatly shaped his beliefs and his life.

Civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, he always considered himself a Baptist preacher first. “This is my being and my heritage,” he once explained, “for I am also the son of a Baptist preacher, the grandson of a Baptist preacher and the great-grandson of a Baptist preacher” 

His father was a pastor for the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. His maternal grandfather, the Reverend Adam Daniel A.D. Williams was famous for his fiery sermons. And his great-grandfather, Willis Williams, was a slave-era preacher.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Family Tree

From Roots of a Tree: The Genealogy of Martin Luther King Jr. National Archives – Southeast Region.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born Michael L. King on 15 Jan 1929, in the family home in Atlanta, Georgia. He was assassinated on 4 Apr 1968 during a visit to Memphis, Tennessee.

Why the name change? In 1934, his father, also named Michael, took a trip to Germany where he was profoundly inspired by the story of the German reformer Martin Luther. When he returned, he officially changed his name, and that of his son, to "Martin Luther" King.

Martin Luther King Jr. married Coretta Scott King on 18 Jun 1953. The couple had four children:

  • Yolanda Denise King (b. 17 Nov 1955)

  • Martin Luther King III (b. 23 Oct 1957)

  • Dexter Scott King (b. 30 Jan 1961)

  • Bernice Albertine King (b. 28 Mar 1963).

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was laid to rest in the historically black South-View Cemetery in Atlanta, but his remains were later moved to a tomb located on the grounds of the King Center, adjacent to Ebenezer Baptist Church.

From the collection of The Martin Luther King Jr. Research & Education Institute at Stanford University.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Parents

Michael (Martin Luther) King, Martin Luther King Jr's father and often called "Daddy King," was born on 19 Dec 1899 in Stockbridge, Georgia. He led the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and became an early leader of the Civil Rights Movement, as the head of the NAACP chapter in Atlanta and of the Civic and Political League. He died of a heart attack on 11 Nov 1984 in Atlanta, Georgia. He is buried with his wife at South-View Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.

Alberta Christine Williams, Martin Luther King Jr's mother, was born on 13 Sep 1903 in Atlanta, Georgia. She was shot to death on 30 June 1974 while she played the organ at Sunday service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and is buried with her husband in South-View Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.

Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Christine Williams were married on Thanksgiving day in 1926 in Atlanta, Georgia, and had the following children:

  • Willie Christine King was born 11 September 1927 and married Isaac FARRIS, Sr.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Alfred Daniel Williams King was born 30 July 1930, married Naomi BARBER, and died 21 July 1969. The Rev. A. D. King is buried in South-View Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Paternal Grandparents

James Albert King was born in Dec 1864 in Ohio. He died on 17 Nov 1933 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Delia Linsey was born about Jul 1875 in Henry County, Georgia, and died 27 May 1924. James and Delia were married 20 Aug 1895 in Stockbridge, Henry County, Georgia and they had nine children including:

  • Woodie King born abt. Apr 1896

  • Michael (aka Martin) King was born 19 Dec 1899

  • Lucius King was born abt. Sep 1899 and died before 1910.

  • Lenora King was born abt. 1902

  • Cleo King was born abt. 1905

  • Lucila King was born abt. 1906

  • James King Jr was born abt. 1908

  • Rubie King was born abt. 1909

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Maternal Grandparents

The Reverend Adam Daniel (A.D.) Williams was born on 2 Jan 1863 in Georgia. He died in Atlanta on 21 Mar 1931.

Jennie Celeste Parks was born in Atlanta in 1873. She married A. D. Williams on 29 October 1899. She died on 18 May 1941 in Atlanta.

Their only child Alberta Christine Williams (Martin Luther King’s mother) was born on 13 Sep 1903 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Williams' transformed nearby Ebenezer Baptist Church from a struggling congregation without a building in the 1890s into one of black Atlanta’s most prominent institutions. Rev. A.D. Williams was president and founder of the Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Maternal Great-Grandparents

Willis Williams was born in 1810.

Lucrecia Daniel was born in 1840. They had five children, including A.D. Williams.

Willis Williams was described as “an old slavery time preacher” and an “exhorter.” In 1846, when Willis joined Shiloh Baptist Church in Greene County, Georgia, its congregation numbered 50 white and 28 black members, with African Americans actively participating in church affairs and serving on church committees. In 1855 nearly a hundred blacks joined the congregation. The family left Shiloh Baptist Church when it, like other southern congregations, divided along racial lines at the end of the Civil War. 

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