Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remains the towering civil rights figure of our time, and the many tributes posted today signifies that actual fact. In the years since his still-jarring assassination, Dr. King’s legacy has remained largely intact.
While the “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington more than 50 years ago immortalized him, there are other interesting and valuable facts about the icon that should be known on the federal holiday (Jan. 18) that celebrates his born day (which is actually Jan. 15).
Among the several books, biographies, documentaries, and second-hand accounts that have emerged since King’s 1968 death, it has unveiled that while he was not a perfect man that he was very much devoted to the idea of Black liberation.
The great example of Dr. King’s courage in the face of rampant racism and his unyielding desire to remain a peaceful activist despite the violence hurled his way lives on today in the various protests from the Black Lives Matter movement and beyond.
By now, many of the unsealed documents regarding the FBI’s investigation of King and others among the sprawling Civil Rights Movement have been disseminated and shared across various outlets and channels. It is striking that much of what the country wrestle’s with today was very much the same struggle for Black Americans some 50-plus years ago.
As we shift from a turbulent four years under President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, there is some hope that King’s fight for justice and equality for all will continue to be front and center as we forge ahead for this new decade.
CASSIUS presents 10 facts about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the following playlist, compiled using images of tweets from The King Center and the center’s current CEO, Bernice King.
We’re thankful for the work of The King Center, created by the late, great Coretta Scott King, and to Bernice King, who continues to honor her father’s legacy as well.
To learn more about The King Center, click here.
As you honor my father today, please honor my mother, as well. She was the architect of the King Legacy and founder of @TheKingCenter, which she founded less than three months after Daddy died. Without #CorettaScottKing, there would be no #MLKDay. #MLK #BelovedCommunity pic.twitter.com/cLvgTjeUwE
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 18, 2021
— The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center (@TheKingCenter) January 15, 2021
1. Martin Luther King Jr. Was Born Michael King Jr.
Born in 1929 in Atlanta, his father changed both their names to Martin Luther in honor of the German monk and reformer. There have been some conflicting reports on that fact, however.
2. He Once Didn’t Believe In God
As a teenager, Dr. King lost his faith although he eventually went on to become a minister.
3. Dr. King Entered Morehouse College As A Teen
After being skipped a couple of grades in high school, Dr. King bypassed the traditional route of academics and entered the famed Morehouse College at the age of 15.
4. Dr. King Earned Three College Degrees
How telling that, in the United States, groups of mostly white people are planning armed anti-democracy action in defense of white nationalism and white slave-holder “Christian” supremacy on #MLKDay.— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 18, 2021
“America, you must be born again!” #MLK pic.twitter.com/JeL8V7vs9m
After earning his B.A. In Sociology from Morehouse, Dr. King went on to earn his Bachelor’s In Divinity from the Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. He later earned his Ph. D. From Boston College in 1955.
5. King Survived An Attempt On His Life In 1958
Instead of using my father to criticize the #BlackLivesMatter movement, use his words and teachings to enact legislation, establish policies, and engage in practices that reflect Black lives mattering.— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 17, 2021
Because, as #MLK said:
“True peace...is the presence of justice.”#MLKDay pic.twitter.com/D7Gwt5d2PJ
Most know of Dr. King’s assassination in 1968, but 10 years prior a reportedly mentally ill woman stabbed him at a book signing in Harlem.
6. King Was The Youngest Person To Win The Nobel Peace Prize
Pastors & preachers:— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 16, 2021
When you tweet about my father’s birthday & on #MLKDay, remember that he was resolute about eradicating racism, poverty & militarism & believed that the church should lead in that work.
“We will be the participants in making it so!”
The authentic #MLK: pic.twitter.com/gkGh9uGDXF
In 1964, Dr. King was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was 35 years old.
7. A Federal Holiday For King Was Proposed Four Days After Death
We can’t skip justice and get to peace.— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 13, 2021
“True peace,” my father said, “is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” pic.twitter.com/WsOHjBnXY5
Members of Congress attempted to honor the great civil rights leader with a federal holiday just four days after his death. It took 15 years before legislation was passed to honor Dr. King.
8. Dr. King’s Opponents Saw Him As A Radical And Communist
Although racial harmony and civil rights were at the heart of Dr. King’s message, he later switched into an anti-war stance as he became critical of the Vietnam War and capitalism. This switch in tone lost him favor among civil rights activists and newspapers nationwide.
9. Dr. King Was A Prolific Writer
Between 1957 and 1968, King delivered over 2500 speeches, wrote five books, and contributed several articles to magazines and newspapers on a variety of subjects.
10. Dr. King & Wife Coretta Scott King Spent Their Wedding Night In A Funeral Home
When Dr. King and Coretta Scott King married in 1953 in Alabama, they were not allowed to stay in a whites-only hotel. Instead, they spent their wedding night within a family friend’s funeral home.