Updated in 2022
Martin Luther King Jr., the American civil rights hero whose life we celebrate every year on the third Monday in January, was a Boy Scout.
Just typing that gives me chills. It’s a fact that should make Scouts everywhere remarkably proud.
After reading rumors online claiming MLK was a Boy Scout, I was thrilled to find confirmation: From age 11 to age 13, King was registered as a member of Troop 151 in Atlanta.
The handwritten troop charter renewal forms, scans of which you can see below, also include the name of King’s father, Martin Luther King Sr., who was the troop’s chartered organization representative.
The troop met at Ebenezer Baptist Church, now part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Both King men served as pastors there.
I was pleased to learn Scouting is still alive and well at Ebenezer today. Troop and Pack 213 meet there every other Sunday.
Those young Scouts must feel so proud to meet at the same spot where one of our nation’s greatest heroes once donned the Boy Scout uniform.
MLK’s boyhood home
Martin Luther King Jr. was born in this charming house at 501 Auburn Ave. in Atlanta. You can get a free guided tour of his birth home when you visit the national historic site.
This is the house King called home when he was a Boy Scout; the address is listed on his troop’s charter forms.
The quest to find MLK’s records
A Google search turned up several sites that claim King was a Boy Scout, but I wanted confirmation.
I checked the pages of Scouting magazine, but while the magazine had written about King it never mentioned his Scouting past. Same with Boys’ Life.
I turned to the BSA’s records management team, which preserves and stores all national records. They found photocopies of the troop charter form with King’s name on them. But where were the originals?
Perhaps with King’s local council in Atlanta, they said.
So I contacted the Atlanta Area Council, which confirmed that King was a Boy Scout.
The council shared scans of the original troop charter forms, which you can see below.
The records prove Martin Luther King Jr. was a Boy Scout
OK, enough buildup. Here are the records (click to enlarge).
A legacy of service
The Boy Scouts of America is more than 110 years strong, with a mission to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
We’re proud that Martin Luther King Jr. is one of many notable leaders who spent time in their youth as members of BSA, learning about leadership and service to others.