Matthew Jenkins was born on December 26, 1950 in Trenton, Michigan. His parents were; Herbert Franklin Jenkins, and Essie Belle (Franklin) Jenkins, who lived in the housing projects on Bassett Street in Detroit. The family lived in abject poverty.
His siblings were; Veronica Takacs, Frances Hurst, Bobby Gene Jenkins, Raymond Herbert Jenkins, Shirley Ann Qualls and Sherry Darlene Loniewski. Matthew was the youngest of seven children born to Essie and Herbert Jenkins. Matthew was the only child born to this family that served in combat. He was also the only child born into this family that attended College.