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MLK legacy includes
Henry County


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  As the United States commemorates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (his actual birthday is today; the national holiday is next Monday), Henry County can lay claim to an important part of the civil rights icon’s heritage.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. was born in Stockbridge and served as pastor of Shoal Creek Baptist for a time.                        Special photo

  His father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., was born and reared in Stockbridge before moving to Atlanta as a young adult. Later he served for a time as a pastor in Locust Grove.

  According to biographical information listed online by the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, the elder King was born Michael King in Stockbridge on Dec. 19, 1897. He was the eldest son of James and Delia King.

  He attended school from three to five months a year at the Stockbridge Colored School, according to the Stanford report. “We had no books, no materials to write with, and no blackboard,” he wrote. “But I loved going.”

  As a child he attended Floyd Chapel Baptist Church on First Street in Stockbridge with his siblings and his mother. That church was founded in 1880, according to its web site, and its original building was torn down in 1949 and a new one constructed.

  The current pastor of Floyd Chapel, Rev. E.C. Cochran Sr., is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at Monday’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade and Program sponsored by the Henry County chapter of the NAACP. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at the Henry County Performing Arts Center adjacent to Henry County High School and will end there, with the program taking place there immediately following the parade.

    King moved to Atlanta in 1918, shortly after deciding to become a minister. He married the former Alberta Williams in 1926. Her father was pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. The couple had a daughter and two sons by 1930, with Michael Luther Jr. the middle child.

  He served as pastor of Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Locust Grove for a brief period. The church’s history lists him as pastor from 1930-32, although Wikipedia and the Stanford biography have him becoming the pastor of Ebenezer in 1931. He changed his name from Michael to Martin several years after that.



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