Many of us enjoyed the day off yesterday in honor of, Martin Luther King Jr. We know about his March on
Washington and his “I Have a Dream” speech, but here are a few other things you may not know about this great civil rights leader.
- His birth name was Michael. When his father, who was a pastor, traveled to Germany, he was inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. He decided to change his own name and that of his son.
- King was so gifted that he skipped two grades and entered Morehouse College as a freshman at age 15.
- Before entering Morehouse, he had no intention of following the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great grandfather to become a minister. Theologian Benjamin E. Mays urged him otherwise and King was ordained before he graduated college.
- King’s civil rights actions led to his arrest 29 times. His arrests included acts of civil disobedience, but also false charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.
- Martin Luther King Jr. survived an earlier assassination attempt. While at a book signing in Harlem Izola Ware Curry plunged a seven inch letter opening into his chest. He had to endure hours of emergency surgery to repair the damage.
- Alberta Williams King, Martin’s mother, was also killed by a bullet. As she played the organ at a Sunday service, Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols and fired shots. One of the bullets struck and killed King. She died steps from where her son used to preach.
- In 1993, then president Ronald Reagan signed the bill that created the national holiday in honor of King. George Washington is the only other American whose birthday is observed as a national holiday.
- In 1963, he was the first African American to be named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. IN fact, he is one of only two African Americans to receive the honor. The other is Barack Obama, who was named twice.