What Was It Like to Have Martin Luther King, Jr., as a Father?

Martin Luther King, Jr., made time for playing with his children.

On MLK Day, we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King is often remembered for his tireless work for racial equality. He should also be remembered as a father of four young children. 

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He said that he dreamed that his four little children would “not be judged by the color of their skin.” Instead, they would be judged by the “content of their character.” King was only 34 years old when he gave the speech. His children were all under the age of eight. Yolanda and Martin Luther III were seven and five. Dexter had not reached his third birthday. The youngest, Bernice, was only five months old.  

Dr. King’s children remember him as a loving father. He had to leave home often. He still valued family time. Dr. King’s children have strong memories of the family dinner table. They talked with their father.  Dr. King would always discuss current events. He would explain why he had to be away from the family so much.  

When he was at home, King was not the serious person often portrayed in history books. He had fun with his children. He loved to play sports. He especially loved playing baseball with them. King and his wife Coretta had to make many sacrifices in the struggle for civil rights. They were aware of the effects the struggle had on their family. They did their best to spend quality time together as a family. They wanted to provide a sense of normalcy for their children. 

What Do You Think? What is your family like? How do you spend time together? 

Photo Credits: Donald Uhrbrock/The Chronicle Collection/Getty Images