Martin Luther King Jr. from Atlanta, Georgia was many things. He was a Doctor; a prophet; he was a Christian; a Pastor; Civil Rights leader; a son; a father; a husband; and more importantly, he is the reason that people of color, can at least, spend their money in the same building as people of other races here in America. He taught us about ourselves, as well as our paths toward social and mental freedom; but what King was not so quick to teach was anything of himself. Get a closer look at the man whom we celebrate, because, he, spent his life celebrating us; as these 10 interesting FACTS on Martin Luther King Jr. get you just a little closer to the man you thought you knew.
1. His name was originally Michael, not Martin. His father was also Michael King, hence why Martin Luther King Jr. was originally named Michael King Jr. However, after a trip to Germany in 1931, Michael King Sr. changed his own name in homage to historic German theologian Martin Luther. Michael King Jr. was two years old at the time and King Sr. made the decision to change his son’s name to Martin Luther as well.
2. King was not the only one to die at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. After he was killed, one of the hotel workers, Lorraine Bailey (who was also the wife of the motel owner and who it was named after), upon seeing King get shot, had a heart attack and later died from this.
3. King won a Grammy Award. How on Earth did he win a Grammy, you say? He won it in 1971 for Best Spoken Word Album for “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam”.
4. His “I Have a Dream” speech painted an even bigger target before on his back, not just with certain people in the general public, but with the FBI. This was a memo circulated throughout the FBI offices after the speech:
“In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech yesterday he stands heads and shoulders over all other Negro leaders put together when it comes to influencing great masses of Negros. We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.”
5. When Martin married his wife, Coretta, the newly weds could not stay at a white-owned hotel; thus compromising for a funeral parlor. Yes, you read right.
6. King is to date the youngest male to win a Nobel Peace Prize, winning it in 1964 at the age of 35 (he is the second youngest overall for the Peace Prize). The youngest ever to win the Peace prize today is Tawakkol Karman of Yemen who was just 32 when she won the prize in 2011. King donated all of the $54,123 (about $400,000 today) he received for his Nobel Peace Prize to the Civil Rights movement.
7. Not to mention. King skipped the 9th and 11th grade entering Morehouse College at 15.
8. King is the only non-president to have a national holiday in his name, and is the only non-president with a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C with more than nine hundred streets named after him in the United States.
9. He was a prophet. King foresaw his death, owned it, and pronounced it in his final speech before his death titled “Ive Been To The Mountaintop ”
10. The younger King was one out of only 11 African-American students in 1948 at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania; in his third year there, he was elected class president. He graduated with honors as class valedictorian. King has his PHD in Systematic Theology. Yes, he has the answers.