Reverend "Daddy" King

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Reverend Michael Luther King, Sr.

Also Known As: "Daddy King", "Martin"
Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Stockbridge, Henry County, Georgia, United States
Death: November 11, 1984 (84)
Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United States
Place of Burial: Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of James Albert King, Sr. and Delia King
Husband of Alberta Christine King
Father of <private> Farris (King); Dr. Martin Lurther King, Jr. and Alfred Daniel Williams
Brother of Woodie King; Lucius King; Lenora King; Cleao King; Lucila King and 2 others

Occupation: Baptist minister
Managed by: Julie Scott Russell
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Reverend "Daddy" King

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. (December 19, 1899 – November 11, 1984), born as Michael King, was a Baptist minister, an advocate for social justice, an early civil rights leader, and the father of Martin Luther King, Jr.

King, Sr. led the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and became a leader of the civil rights movement, as the head of the NAACP chapter in Atlanta and of the Civic and Political League. He encouraged his son to become active in the movement.

Born Michael King on December 19, 1899 in Stockbridge, Georgia. His father was James (Jim) King (1864–1933) and his mother was Delia Linsey King (1875–1924). Michael was the eldest son of nine children[3] and the family lived as sharecroppers.

King was a member of the Baptist Church and decided to become a preacher after being inspired by ministers who were prepared to stand up for racial equality. He left Stockbridge for Atlanta, where his sister Woodie was boarding with Reverend A.D. Williams, then head of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. He attented Dillard University for a two year degree. After King started courting Williams' daughter, Alberta, her family encouraged him to finish his education and to become a preacher. King completed his high school education at Bryant Preparatory School, and began to preach in several black churches in Atlanta.

In 1926, King started his ministerial degree at the Morehouse School of Religion. On Thanksgiving Day in 1926, after eight years of courtship, he married Alberta in the Ebenezer Church. The couple had three children in four years: a daughter, Willie Christine King (born 1927), Martin Luther, Jr. (1929–1968), and a second son, Alfred Daniel Williams King (1930–1969).

King Sr. became leader of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in March 1931 after the death of Williams. With the country in the midst of the Great Depression, church finances were struggling, but King organised membership and fundraising drives that restored these to health. By 1934, King had become a widely respected leader of the local church and had changed his name from Michael King to Martin Luther King.

King was the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church for four decades, wielding great influence in the black community and earning some degree of respect from the white community. He also broadcast on WAEC, a religious radio station in Atlanta.

In his 1950 essay An Autobiography of Religious Development, King Jr. wrote that his father was a major influence on his entering the ministry.' 'I guess the influence of my father also had a great deal to do with my going in the ministry. This is not to say that he ever spoke to me in terms of being a minister, but that my admiration for him was the great moving factor; He set forth a noble example that I didn't mind following.

King Jr. often recounted that his father frequently sent him to work in the fields. He said that in this way he would gain a healthier respect for his forefathers. This was a driving factor in his civil rights movements across the United States.

In his autobiography, King Jr. remembered his father leaving a shoe shop because he and his son were asked to change seats. "This was the first time I had seen Dad so furious. That experience revealed to me at a very early age that my father had not adjusted to the system, and he played a great part in shaping my conscience. I still remember walking down the street beside him as he muttered, 'I don't care how long I have to live with this system, I will never accept it.'

Another story related by Martin Luther King, Jr. was that once the car his father was driving was stopped by a police officer, and the officer addressed the senior King as "boy". King pointed to his son, saying "This is a boy, I'm a man; until you call me one, I will not listen to you."

He became an associate pastor at Ebenezer in 1948, and his father wrote a letter of recommendation for him to Crozier College. Despite theological differences, father and son would later serve together as joint pastors at the church.

King Sr. was a major figure in the civil rights movement in Georgia, where he rose to become the head of the NAACP in Atlanta and the Civic and Political League. He led the fight for equal teachers' salaries in Atlanta. He also played an instrumental role in ending Jim Crow laws in the state. King Sr. had refused to ride on Atlanta's bus system since the 1920s after a vicious attack on black passengers with no action against those responsible. King Sr. stressed the need for an educated, politically active black ministry.

In October 1960, when Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested at a peaceful sit-in in Atlanta, Robert Kennedy telephoned the judge and helped secure King's release. Although King, Sr. had previously opposed Kennedy because he was a Catholic,[citation needed] he expressed his appreciation for these calls and switched his support to Kennedy. At this time, King, Sr. had been a lifelong registered Republican, and had endorsed Republican Richard Nixon. His son, Martin Luther King Jr. soon became a popular civil rights activist. Taking the example of Nadia Gandhi of India, he led nonviolent protests in order to give African Americans greater rights. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed in 1968, King Sr. continued to serve as pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church until 1975. His wife Alberta was murdered in June 1974.

In 1969, King Sr. was one of several members of the Morehouse College board of trustees held hostage on the campus by a group of students demanding reform in the school’s curriculum and governance. One of the students was Samuel L. Jackson, who was suspended for his actions. Jackson subsequently became an actor and Academy Award nominee.

King Sr. played a notable role in the nomination of Jimmy Carter as the Democratic candidate for President in the 1976 election. After Carter's success in the Iowa caucus, the New Hampshire primary and the Florida primary, some liberal Democrats were worried about his success and began an "ABC" ("Anyone But Carter") movement to try to head off his nomination. King Sr. pointed to Carter's leadership in ending the era of segregation in Georgia, and helping to repeal laws ending voting restrictions that especially disenfranchised African Americans. With King's support, Carter continued to build a coalition of black and white voters and win the nomination. King Sr. delivered the invocation at the 1976 and 1980 Democratic National Conventions.

With his son's widow Coretta Scott King, King Sr. was present when President Carter awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rev. King. Jr. posthumously in 1977.

King Sr. published his autobiography in 1980. On November 11, 1984, he died of a heart attack at the Crawford W. Long Hospital in Atlanta.


Civil Rights Activist. He was the prominent pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church for over 40 years, but was most notably known as the father of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. Known by family and friends as "Daddy King", he was an important civil rights leader in his own right. Few men could be as stubborn and domineering. He lacked intellectual depth and often noted he could be taken to court for his crimes against the English language. Despite suffering great personal insult and loss throughout his life, King, like his son, stuck rigidly to the code of nonviolence and forgiveness. In the 1930s, he built up the membership of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church to a congregation of several thousand. This gave him a base in the African-American community from where he could preach about civil rights and advocate progressive social action. In 1936, he led the first black voting-rights march in the history of Atlanta. In 1960, he played a key role in mobilizing black support to elect John F. Kennedy president. He also offered crucial support to his son at many times in his career even though they did not always agree. Born Michael King, he was the eldest son of nine children born to poor Georgia sharecroppers, James and Delia King. Growing up in the early part of the twentieth century, he saw firsthand the brutality of southern racism. In his early teens, he was beaten by a white mill owner. He also saw a black man hanged by a white mob. Yet his family continued to advocate nonviolence. When his mother was dying, he cursed white people, but his mother disagreed. "Hatred makes nothin' but more hatred...Don't you do it," she told him. As a member of Floyd Chapel Baptist Church, he was inspired by the few ministers who risked speaking out against racial injustice and decided to become a minister himself. In 1917, despite his educational deficiencies, he was trained and licensed by the ministers from his church. In the spring of 1918, he left Stockbridge to join his older sister Woodie in Atlanta. Woodie was boarding at the home of Rev. A. D. Williams, prominent minister of Ebenezer Baptist Church. King seized the opportunity to introduce himself to the minister's daughter, Alberta Williams. After the two began a courtship, he was quickly welcomed into the Williams household. Rev. and Mrs. Williams supported their future son-in-law's ministerial aspirations by encouraging him to continue his education. He worked a variety of jobs on the railroads, in an auto tire shop, loading bales of cotton, and driving a truck. He also went to school at night, graduating from high school in 1925. He then completed his studies at Bryant Preparatory School and served as pastor of several churches in Atlanta and nearby College Park before becoming assistant pastor of Ebenezer in 1926. He was able to convince the president of Atlanta's Morehouse College that he should be admitted to the three-year minister's degree program at the Morehouse School of religion in 1926 in spite of not fully meeting the school's educational requirements. On Thanksgiving day of that same year, he and Alberta were joined in marriage at Ebenezer. The newlyweds then moved into the Williams family home, where they had three children, Willie Christine, Martin Luther, Jr., and Alfred Daniel, within their first four years of marriage. As he continued his education, he also took over some of the duties at the church. When his father-in-law suddenly died in the spring of 1931, he was voted pastor. Through membership and fundraising drives, he rescued the church from financial ruin brought by the Great Depression and preached his message of social action and nonviolence. In the 1930s, King joined the NAACP, the Atlanta Negro Voters League, and the Interracial Council of Atlanta. In addition to the voting-rights march, he worked at integrating the Ford Motor Company and ending segregation of the elevators in the Fulton County courthouse. By 1934, he was a well-respected pastor and traveled to the World Baptist Alliance in Berlin. Also at this time, he changed his name and that of his oldest son to Martin Luther King at the wish of his dying grandfather. Never hesitating to direct his influence as a pastor toward the cause of racial equality, he headed Atlanta's Civic and Political League and NAACP branch. But perhaps his most significant contribution to the civil rights movement was the influence he had on the development of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s social consciousness. From 1956 to 1968 his son rose to be one of the major national leaders of the civil rights movement and throughout his son's career, he continued to advocate racial equality within his church and community. April of 1968 began a series of tragedies in the life of King with the assassination of his son which devastated him. Upon seeing his son's body in the casket, he was more a father trying to wake his son from a nap finally collapsing and sobbing. "He never hated anybody," the old man softly cried. "He never hated anybody." In 1969 his younger son A. D. drowned in a mysterious swimming pool accident and in 1974 his beloved wife who he called "Bunch" was shot while playing the organ at Ebenezer (The assassin later admitted that King had been his target). In spite of the spiritual strength provided by the Lord, he grieved deeply. He stepped into a public role after his son's death, attending events that honored his son and delivering the invocation at the 1976 and 1980 Democratic National Conventions. He continued to preach at Ebenezer until his resignation in 1975. In the fall of that same year he becomes the first African-American to address a joint session of the Alabama state legislature. In 1976, when presidential candidate Jimmy Carter made a remark about "ethnic purity," many believed that would lose him the southern black vote. King played an instrumental role in preventing that. When King hugged Carter on a public platform, it symbolized Carter's acceptance by black civil rights leaders, and Carter went on to win 90 percent of the black vote. In August 1976, King found himself in a coronary care unit. The following year he was treated for congestive heart failure. Although his steps were slowing, and he needed a cane to use for balance, his spirit still sought usefulness and service. He spent the remainder of his life giving lectures and as a guest minister at churches. On the morning of November 11, 1984, he attended services at Atlanta's Salem Baptist Church. That afternoon, he suffered a heart attack and was rushed to Crawford W. Long Memorial Hospital and died that afternoon at 5:41 p.m. with his surviving child and a grandson at his side. Days later on November 16, 1984, nearly 3,000 blacks and whites stood side by side at his funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church. One by one, leaders of the nation came to offer memories of and tributes to the man who had occupied the church's pulpit for 44 years and whose faith in God and compassion for his fellow man directed his life. (bio by: [fg.cgi?page=mr&MRid=46552524" target="_blank Curtis Jackson)] Maintained by: Find A Grave Record added: Jun 04, 2000

Find A Grave Memorial# 9795

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Reverend "Daddy" King's Timeline

December 19, 1899
Stockbridge, Henry County, Georgia, United States
January 15, 1929
Age 29
Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United States
July 30, 1930
Age 30
Atlanta, GA, USA
November 11, 1984
Age 84
Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United States
November 16, 1984
Age 84
Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United States