By Felicity LuHill
January 16, 2017
Most people know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great civil rights activist who practiced nonviolence in his protests. But here are a few things you may not have known about the man (and his legacy!)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. and his father, Martin Luther King, Sr. were both born Michael King
- His father changed both of their names after attending the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin. He changed it to “Martin Luther” after the German reformer, Martin Luther.
- King had Irish ancestry through his paternal great grandfather.
- When he was young, King was skeptical of Christian claims, like Jesus’s resurrection.
- At the age of 13, King became the youngest assistant manager at an Atlanta Journal delivery station.
- King was a precocious student, skipping 9th and 12th grade, entering Morehouse College when he was 15, and graduating when he was 19.
- While in seminary, King became romantically involved with a white woman, the daughter of a German immigrant who worked in his seminary’s cafeteria. He wanted to marry her, but broke off the relationship after his friends told him it would be extremely controversial among both white and black folks, and could possibly interfere with his ability to be a pastor in a Southern church.
- When Martin Luther King married Coretta Scott King, he limited her role in the Civil Rights Movement, wanting her to primarily be a mother and wife.
- King got his PhD in Systematic Theology from Boston University when he was 25. Though an academic committee found portions of his thesis to be plagiarized in 1991, they kept his PhD intact, saying that it still “makes an intelligent contribution to scholarship.”
- King was arrested 30 times in his lifetime.
- King narrowly escaped death when Izola Curry stabbed him with a letter opener. The mentally ill black woman had believed he was conspiring against her with communists.
- After assassinated, King’s autopsy showed that, though 39, he “had the heart of a 60 year old.” Doctors attributed this to the stress of being in the civil rights movement for over 13 years.
- There have been several conspiracy theories about King’s assassination including one that says the government paid for it. As late as 2001, people have come forth saying they were involved in his death.
- King received countless awards in his lifetime, including 50 awards from colleges and universities, an award from the American Jewish Comittee, and an award from Planned Parenthood. He was the first black man to receive an honorary degree from Newcastle University in the UK, the first black man to be called Time Magazine’s Man of The Year, and the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
- He was posthumously given the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.
- King has 11 published works to his name.
- There are over 900 streets in the US named after King.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day started in 1971 as a local, annual holiday and became a federal holiday in 1981 through a bill signed by Ronald Reagan. However, it wasn’t until 2000 that all 50 states observed the holiday.
- King is the only non-president to have a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
- Martin Luther King is planned to be featured on the new $5 bill.
- “Books & Bibliography.” Books & Bibliography | The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.
- “Leaders-MLK.” Leaders-MLK. Black History Channel, n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.
- “Martin Luther King Jr.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 05 Jan. 2017. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
- “Martin Luther King Jr.: Restoring streets with his name.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
- “Reverend King Awards and Recognition.” Martin Luther King | Awards | Recognition. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
- Bijan C. Bayne / AlterNet. “8 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Alternet. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
- Breyer, Melissa. “10 surprising things you may not know about Martin Luther King Jr.” MNN – Mother Nature Network. Mother Nature Network, 04 Apr. 2016. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.
- Friday, January 18 2013, and Jonathan DeBurca Butler. “We had a dream … he’s one of us.” Irish Examiner. N.p., 17 Jan. 2013. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.
- GaryNorth.com. “How Martin Luther King, Jr. Got Away With Plagiarism: Different Strokes for Different Folks.” Gary North. N.p., 28 July 2005. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
- Sorensen, Karen. “MLK: 10 Things You Might Not Know.” Joliet, IL Patch. Patch, 19 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
- Wright, Bruce. “New $5 Bill To Feature Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marian Anderson; Lincoln To Remain On Front.” International Business Times. N.p., 21 Apr. 2016. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
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