King was originally named Michael King Jr., but changed his name out of respect to his father and the religious leader Martin Luther. His father had changed his own name years before. King's father was stern while his mother was gentle. King was one of three children and grew up in Atlanta, Ga. King's parents tried to shield him from racism, but it was impossible to do so in the Southern state.
King was an intelligent child, and even skipped two grades. King's parents were financially secure and considered to be middle class. Because of this he had some advantages that other African-American children at the time did not. His encounters with racism were not the same, either. His encounters with racism were mild events, such as having to ride in the back of the bus on a trip home from a competition. King entered college at the age of 15. It was not until his junior year in college that King decided he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and become a minister.Learn more about US History