By Lily Rothman
January 15, 2015

First, he was named Michael. Though Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be observed in the United States on Jan. 19 this year, it was on Jan. 15, 1929, that Michael Luther King, Jr., was born. As TIME recounted in a 1957 profile of the Civil Rights leader, he was six when his father — a pastor in Atlanta — decided that the two should switch out their first names for Martin, in honor of Martin Luther, the priest who brought about the Protestant Reformation. His childhood home (a two-story yellow brick house, according to TIME’s profile) was a religious one, where the younger Martin would recite from the Bible at dinnertime.

The early article provides a rare glimpse at how the leader was discussed before he was known throughout the world.

And, even if he didn’t always want to be a minister, it’s clear that his childhood shaped the rest of his life:

Read the full article here, in the TIME Vault: Attack on the Conscience

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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