This Martin Luther King Jr. goes by ‘Marty’
ATLANTA (AP) — Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in a small eastern Tennessee town and now lives in suburban Atlanta.
Not that Martin Luther King Jr. The other one.
King, 53, is a white, long-haired graphics designer and children’s book author who goes by “Marty” so as not to cause so much confusion. He’s named for his father, who was named for the German monk and theologian Martin Luther, father of the Protestant Reformation in the early 1500s.
His name is just a coincidence, but growing up in the 1960s, King’s moniker often raised eyebrows as the more famous version of his name led bus boycotts, marches and rallies. He says the name made him pay attention to the civil rights movement even as a child.
“We had a common name. He was in the newspapers and on TV. It made me interested in watching him,” Marty King told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Marty King was born in Clinton, Tenn., in 1955, the second week of the Montgomery bus boycott when the elder King was 26 and beginning to gain fame for his work. Except for the occasional phone calls from confused people, Marty King has lived mostly in anonymity in the Atlanta suburbs.
When she was alive, Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, Coretta Scott King, got phone calls at Marty King’s house. He also has gotten racial slurs on his answering machine.
“Those you just push the (erase) button,” said King, who no longer has voicemail on his phone.
It takes most folks a while to learn Marty King’s full name, and he likes it that way.
Co-worker, Judith Howard, said she only found out because she used his credit card for an office order.
“I looked at it and was like, ’Wow, that’s you?’ “ she said.
The name connection has caused some hassles along the way. There was the time the U.S. Postal Service canceled his mail and marked it “deceased.”
And there was the time, at age 17, he got pulled over by an Alabama police officer who was less than thrilled when he saw King’s driver’s license.
“He gave me some odd looks,” said King, whose grandfather was named Abraham Lincoln. “He inquired as to my family’s sympathies.”
But there are fun parts of having such a ubiquitous name.
“Every town you go into, you can always find a street sign that has your name on it and have a picture taken in front of it,” he said. “I send them home to my mother. She gets a kick out of it.”
Marty King says he expects to get calls from friends on Monday, the national holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader. It happens every year.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com
Published in The Messenger 1.21.08