While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is most widely known as the father of the modern civil rights movement, much of his private life is rightfully left out of the ruminations regarding his legacy.
Dr. King was a devoted son, brother, father and husband. And his work still outlines the foundation of present-day liberation movements, most notably, the Black Lives Matter movement. Other than working tirelessly to spread the gospel through his work as an activist, King dedicated his ministry to restoring the rights of the underserved, who were at the focal point of his liberation work.
From the Poor People’s Campaign to his outspokenness regarding America’s role in Vietnam, King was a radical figure who understood that the investment in changing the soul of the nation would cost. And on April 4, 1968, he was fatally struck on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
He was an avid lover of music, specifically gospel and jazz, naming Nina Simone and Mahalia Jackson as his favorite artists. Reportedly, his last conversation was with saxophonist Ben Branch, who King asked to play “Precious Lord Take My Hand” at an event the two were scheduled to attend on the evening of King’s assassination.
He enjoyed traveling the world and was also a noted “Trekkie,” a name given to lovers of the space anthology “Star Trek.” As a child he was said to be highly intelligent, yet precocious, who enjoyed sports, dancing, fashion, and playing pranks on his siblings and neighbors. It was said that prior to his devotion to preaching, King went through a period during his adolescence where he questioned certain elements of his religious upbringing fueling questioning and doubt. King was advanced and skipped grades in school, leading to him enrolling in Morehouse College at the age of 15.
After graduation, he attended Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he finished at the top of his class. He moved on to Boston University where he received his doctorate in systematic theology. It was in Boston that he met and fell in love with Coretta Scott, who was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music. They married on June 18, 1953, at her parents’ home in Alabama and later had four children, Yolanda, Martin Luther III, Dexter and Bernice. Until her death in 2006, Coretta Scott King served as the bold and dedicated surveyor of his work.
King was a man who could evoke deep emotion and urgency into the hearts of those who believed in his vision, and undoubtedly stoked fear in the minds of those who were too full with hate to venture to the other side of the “mountaintop.”
There are thousands of photos of Dr. King marching, preaching and advocating for righteousness. But there is also a multitude of photos that offer small glimpses of King in more tender, intimate moments as he sat with the people he loved, doing the work he was called to do.
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Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta march together along a rural Mississippi road with the March Against Fear. color image,photography,horizontal,usa,adult,rural scene,women,road,1990-1999,wife,human interest,martin luther king jr.,black history in the us
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LOS ANGELES, CA -1965: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sits at a table during The Nation Institute California Conference circa 1965 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Martin Mills/Getty Images) vertical,photography,people,one person,arts culture and entertainment,usa,portrait,headshot,california,city of los angeles,archival,table,martin luther king jr.,1960-1969,black history in the us
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American civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968, centre) heading towards Jackson, Mississippi on the March Against Fear, 9th June 1966. The marchers set out after the original, solo marcher, James Meredith was shot and wounded by a white gunman. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images) color image,photography,people,horizontal,usa,outdoors,african-american ethnicity,day,sunglasses,road,medium group of people,politics,activist,archival,three quarter length,human interest,martin luther king jr.,protest,politics and government,straw hat,marching,black civil rights,black history in the us,human rights,jackson – mississippi,1966,social justice – concept
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Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at the March Against Fear rally on the steps of the Neshoba County Courthouse in Philadelphia. The march went to Philadelphia to protest the unsolved murders of three civil rights workers in 1964. color image,photography,horizontal,usa,talking,1990-1999,human interest,martin luther king jr.,black history in the us
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LOS ANGELES – JULY 11: Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (center) arrives at the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images) photography,arts culture and entertainment,horizontal,usa,arrival,california,city of los angeles,archival,democracy,martin luther king jr.,political rally,1960-1969,democratic party – usa,democratic national convention,black history in the us,minister – clergy
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Dr Martin Luther King arriving at Heathrow Airport from New York. He is due to appear on the BBC’s Face to Face during his four day visit, as well as delivering a sermon at Bloomsbury’s Central Baptist Church. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images) photography,people,one person,horizontal,arrival,uk,london – england,politics,archival,airport,martin luther king jr.,1960-1969,politics and government,heathrow airport,black history in the us
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American Christian minister and activist Martin Luther King Jr (1929 – 1968) aboard a flight, December 24th, 1963. (Photo by Ben Martin/Getty Images) vertical,photography,people,one person,usa,politics,black and white,activist,archival,human interest,martin luther king jr.,1960-1969,government minister,politics and government,black civil rights,black history in the us,human rights,social justice – concept
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Martin Luther King lors d’un discours en mai 1967. (Photo by Christian HIROU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) photography,france,horizontal,black and white,archival,human interest,martin luther king jr.,speech,1960-1969,black history in the us
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