Martin Luther King Jr. was a social activist and Baptist minister. He is greatly remembered as being the leader of the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also a great orator, with the ability to move the masses with his words. Following are some of the interesting and lesser-known facts about his life.
Interesting Facts about Martin Luther King Jr.:
- Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia.
- At birth, he was named Michael King Jr. His father later changed his name after being inspired by German monk and leader Martin Luther.
- King’s father was a Baptist minister while his mother was a school teacher.
- King enrolled in Morehouse College in 1944 at the age of 15, after skipping 9th and 12th grades in high school.
- On May 17, 1957, King gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in front of more than 250,000 people. This march in Washington DC was focused on the importance of civil rights legislation.
- King was greatly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian leader famous for his non-violent protests.
- King was imprisoned 29 times during his life, on charges ranging from acts of civil disobedience to driving over the speed limit.
- King was the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
- More than 730 streets in the United States are named after Martin Luther King, Jr.
- King met his future wife Coretta Scott, a music student and aspiring singer, in 1953. The couple had four children.
- He gave his last great speech “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” on April 3, 1968. The next day, on April 4th, he was assassinated by James Earl Ray, while standing on the balcony of a motel.
- Some people including King’s family believe that there was a wider conspiracy regarding his murder, with Ray just being a scapegoat.
- He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004 posthumously.
- The Lorraine Motel, where he was killed, is now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a national holiday in the United States. Since 1986, it is commemorated on the third Monday in January each year.