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Martin Luther King Jr. in the Boston area

Before he was a civil rights pioneer and Nobel laureate, King was but lowly grad student at Boston University

Martin Luther King Leading Protest March Getty Images

Martin Luther King Jr. was but a lowly grad student at Boston University in the early 1950s before he was a major civil rights leader.

While studying here, he did grad student things: Played pick-up basketball games to unwind; dated his future spouse; and happily dined gratis at friends’ homes. King likely spent most of his time in the South End, including residing at three known addresses, as well as in and around the BU campus.

He would leave the area in 1954, as he wound down his PhD, but would return to deliver a forceful speech at the Massachusetts State House months after he won the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1964.


397 Massachusetts Avenue. King lived for a time in this three-story South End rowhouse with the bow front. It’s the only address of his where there’s an official plaque commemorating the tenancy.

170 Saint Botolph Street. King lived in this South End brownstone for a time as well.

396 Northampton Street, #5. King lists this South End apartment as his address in correspondence in 1954. This was likely the first home for King after his 1953 marriage to Coretta Scott.

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William E. Carter Playground. King unwound from his graduate studies with basketball games in this South End park next to Northeastern University. The Carter Playground, interestingly enough, was the first public park in Boston named for an African-American—a veteran of both the Spanish-American War and World War I.

21 Holyoke Street. King was a dinner guest of the long-time owners of this South End townhouse, which last sold for $3,823,803 in January 2013.

League of Women for Community Service. Coretta Scott lived at the long-time headquarters of the League of Women for Community Service at 558 Massachusetts Avenue while she was dating King.

Myles Standish Hall. Where Martin met Coretta... And where King lived when he first got to BU. It’s at 610 Beacon Street in Kenmore Square.

The exterior of the Massachusetts State House. The building is red brick and there is a gold dome. There are white columns on the facade. Glenn Leblanc/Getty Images

Massachusetts State House. On April 22, 1965, King spoke to a joint legislative session inside everyone’s favorite federal touchstone. He closed his remarks by quoting his “I Have a Dream” speech almost verbatim.