Today is a special day as the world celebrates the birthday of the greatest activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As a country currently in its second term with its first black president, it is definitely a testament to how far things have come since King’s time on this Earth.
He would be truly proud at the growth of this country since his death in 1968. As much as the world talks about this life-changing man, few actually know his story. So to celebrate his birthday and prepare for MLK Day on Monday, here are 10 little known facts about Dr. King.
1. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born Michael King, Jr. and his father says it was a mistake. So in 1931, when his father became Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, he adopted the name Martin Luther after the famed Protestant leader. When he was six-years-old, his father legally changed his name on the birth certificate to Martin Luther King, Jr.
2. He was incredibly smart. He only attended two years of high school, skipping ninth and twelfth grade, before making his way to Morehouse College at age 15. He was even a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, who pushed for the creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial that opened in 2011.
3. King sang with his church choir at the gala premiere of “Gone With The Wind” in Atlanta.
4. If you think Main St. is one of the most comment street names, think again. There are over 900 streets named after King spanning over 40 states in the U.S.
5. When King married his wife Coretta, their honeymoon left a lot to be desired. Since they could not stay at a white-owned hotel, the newlyweds bunked up at a black-owned funeral home on their wedding night. But the wedding almost never happened! In the beginning, Coretta was reportedly not interested in King because he wasn’t taller than her. But after a yearlong courtship, the two wed.
6. Adding to his accolades, King was the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He received the award at age 35 in 1964 and donated the $54,000 he received to a civil rights cause.
7. Nearly a decade before his death, King had another assassination attempt on his life. At a book signing in 1958, a woman named Izola Ware Curry stabbed the activist in his chest with a letter opener after remarking she had been looking for him for five years.
8. During his activist movements, King was arrested nearly 30 times trying to defend the civil rights of his peers.
9. King was an avid fan of Star Trek. He was such a big Trekkie, he even convinced one of the actors Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, to stay on the show past its first season.
10. At age 12, King attempted suicide after the death of his grandmother. The day she died, he attended a parade against his parent’s wishes. While he was gone, his little brother knocked his grandmother unconscious while sliding down a banister and King blamed himself for the death. Since he was so young, he didn’t realize that the unconsciousness was unrelated to his grandmother’s heart attack. Being distraught and emotional, he jumped out a second story window at his family’s home.
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