When Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 his name was not Martin nor Luther. Dr King was originally born as Michael King, Jr named after his father the Reverend Michael King.

So when did his name change and why? As the story goes, MLK’s father, the Reverend Michael King was sent on a trip to attend the Baptist World Alliance meeting. He traveled to many different locations including Rome, Tunisia, Egypt, Jerusalem and other places. Rev. King also visited Germany during the trip and the year was 1934, the year after Hitler came to power.

While in Germany he visited Wittenberg where Martin Luther, who was a monk after the Augustine Order, nailed his 95 thesis on the church (perhaps the door) as a point of debate. His thesis were meant to start a discussion or debate about the abuses of power by the church in his day (specifically by Rome). The result was the Protestant Reformation which started in 1517.

The Rev King came away from his visit to Germany a changed man. He was so moved by his experiences that he came home and changed his son’s name from Michael to Martin Luther. On his birth certificate the name Michael was crossed out and replaced by the name Martin Luther. That is the story behind the man who led a reformation of his own and helped to change a nation.

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