King toured much of Germany, the country that is the birthplace of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, which led to a split with the Catholic Church.
When he returned to Atlanta, the senior King decided to change his name and his son's from Michael to Martin Luther, after the German Protestant leader, according to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford.
"Thus we can see that Berlin was partly responsible for Martin Luther King, Jr., becoming the man we celebrate today," King Institute director Clayborne Carson said.
That is why King Jr.’s birth certificate — filed with the Georgia Department of Public Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics — was altered on July 23, 1957, when he was 28. “Michael” is crossed out, and “Martin Luther Jr.” is printed next to it.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
This year, the AJC’s Black History Month series will focus on the role of health and wellness in the Black community. In addition to the traditional stories that we do on African American pioneers, these pieces will run in our Living and A sections every day this month. You can also go to ajc.com/black-history-month for more subscriber exclusives on the African American people, places and organizations that have changed the world.