Martin Luther King Jr was born on January 15th 1929. Every year, the nation pays tribute to his efforts towards equality and justice for all, but these are not the only reasons we love Martin so much. Here’s 10 things you probably didn’t know about the amazing Martin Luther King Jr.
- Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth name is not Martin. You read that right! His birth name was actually Michael King Jr. His father Michael King Sr. was inspired by protestant reformer Martin Luther on a trip to Germany. When he returned to the States he changed both his name and his son’s names to Martin Luther King in 1934.
- MLK was a gifted student and skipped grades 9 and 12, which allowed him to enroll in Morehouse College at the age of 15 (where he later received a degree in sociology).
- Martin initially had no intentions on becoming a minister, but instead wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer.
- Dr. King Jr received his Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955. His dissertation was titled “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”
- Six years before his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin spoke at the Lincoln Memorial with other Civil Rights Activists in front of a crowd of approximately 15,000 to 30,000 people. It was after this speech that people positioned King at the font of the Civil Rights Movement.
- Dr. King had been in jail 29 times mostly for civil disobedience and once for going 30 mph in a 25 mph zone.
- A decade before King’s assassination, Martin escaped death from a fatal wound in the chest while on a book tour for Stride Toward Freedom. In Harlem, NY, 1958, Martin was attacked by a woman named Izola Ware Curry. She stabbed King in the chest with a letter opener just missing his aorta. Dr. King was rushed to the hospital for surgery where he later recovered from his injury.
- Martin is the youngest male to have received a Noble Peace Prize in his time. He also donated all the money he received, $54,123 (approx. $400,000 today), from the Noble Peace Prize to the Civil Rights Movement.
- The first MLK Day was observed in 1986, 3 years after President Reagan signed it into Federal Law, and it wasn’t until 2000 that all 50 states officially observed MLK Day.
- Only one other American has had their birthday observed as a Federal holiday besides Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a gregarious, brave, inspirational, and iconic leader. We thank him for all his efforts and remember his legacy.