Names from the King Family


Martin Luther King Jr. was an African-American Civil Rights leader. A pastor and advocate for nonviolence, King’s words of peace and freedom are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago. On Monday, January 19th we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day.

When I hear the name Martin, I immediately think of Martin Luther King Jr. I’m filled with emotion as I hear his name and think of his legacy and powerful words. What a powerful thing a name can truly be. Today I thought it would be interesting to look at names from the King family.


Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin King Jr. was in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929

Martin was the middle child of Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King.  His older sister is Christine King Farris, and his younger brother was Alfred Daniel William King, better known as A.D. King.
Martin is a Latin name, meaning “of Mars” or “warlike”. Used both as a first and a surname, Martin was #83 in popularity in 1929 when King was born.  Martin is currently #263.

Martin Sr. changed both his name and his son’s name to Martin Luther in 1934 in honor of the Protestant leader, Martin Luther. Luther comes from a German surname, meaning “solider of the people”.

King is a strong English word name, meaning “monarch”. King is quickly rising in popularity, currently #193. King could make a neat middle name to honor Martin Luther King Jr.


King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953

Martin Luther King Jr. married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953

King married Coretta Scott at her parents home in Heiberger, Alabama

Coretta Scott was born April 27, 1927 to Obadiah “Obie” Scott and Bernice McMurray Scott.  I’ve always thought Coretta was such a wonderful name.  Coretta is a diminutive of the Greek name Cora, meaning “maiden”.  Martin often called her “Corrie”. An activist and author, Coretta Scott King has a beautiful and memorable name.

 The King Children

The King Family Dexter, Yolanda, Bernice, and Martin Luther III  (left to right) with their Parents

The King Family
Dexter, Yolanda, Bernice, and Martin Luther III
(left to right) with their Parents

Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King had four children

Yolanda Denise King
The eldest of the King children, Yolanda was an artist, activist, and actress.  She sometimes went by the nickname “Yoki”.  One of the few names that begin with the letter Y, Yolanda is a Greek name, meaning “violet flower”.

Martin Luther King III
The eldest son and eldest living child of the King.  Named for his father and grandfather, Martin followed in their footsteps as a community leader and human rights advocate.  He married Andrea Waters and had a daughter, the only King grandchild.  Born a year after his sister’s death, Martin III choose to name his daughter Yolanda in honor of his late sister.

Dexter Scott King
The third of the King children, Dexter is an actor and film maker.  Dexter is an Old English surname and occupational name, meaning “one who dyes”.  It also has Latin roots, meaning “right handed”. Dexter King married Leah Weber in 2013.

Bernice Albertine King
The youngest of the King children, Bernice is the CEO of the King Center.  Bernice is a variation of Berenice, a Greek name, meaning “she who brings victory”.


May we live out his dream of peace,

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