Delia Linsey King, paternal grandmother of Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in 1875 to sharecroppers in Henry County, Georgia. Her father, a former slave whose owner used him to breed other slaves, fathered children with several women in addition to Delia's mother, Jane Linsey.
At the age of twenty, Delia married thirty-one year old James Albert King. Working as sharecroppers, the couple moved throughout Georgia's Henry and Clayton counties. In 1900, they settled in Stockbridge, where they raised nine children. Michael (father of Martin Luther King, Jr. and later known as Martin Luther King, Sr. ) was the second child and first son. Reflecting upon his mother’s daily contributions toward the family's survival, Michael remarked, "My mother had babies, worked the fields, and often went during the winter to wash and iron in the homes of the whites around town."
Delia's ability to provide for her children was often hindered by her husband's alcoholism and abusive nature. The hardships caused by a troubled family life, poverty, and racism, however, were eased by the solace Delia found in the church. With strong ties to Floyd Chapel Baptist Church, Delia instilled a strong sense of spirituality within her children. Michael, who later became a minister, once commented, "Papa was not religious and although I don't think he was very enthusiastic about my attending so many church affairs, he never interfered with Mama's taking me."
Delia Linsey King died on 27 May 1924 at the age of 48.
Clayborne Carson, Ralph Luker, and Penny A. Russell, eds., The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Volume I: Born to Serve, January 1929–June 1951, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992)
Martin Luther King, Sr., Daddy King: An Autobiography, (New York: William Morrow & Co., 1980)