10 Things You May Not Know About Dr. Martin Luther King JrJan 18, 2021 08:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January that celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. This year, we’d like to highlight some lesser-known fascinating facts
1. He was born Michael King Jr. after his father, Michael King Sr., but his father changed their names to Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr. when Martin Jr. was about 5 years old. Martin Sr. was a minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and when he visited Germany in 1934, he became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader, Martin Luther.
2. When Martin Luther King Jr received a Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through non-violent means in 1964, he was just 35 years old, making him the youngest man at the time to do so. His prize included a check for $54,123, which he donated to various organizations such as the Congress on Racial Equality, theNational Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to aid in the progress of the civil rights movement.
3. King entered college at the age of 15. He was a gifted student that he skipped 9th and 12th grade before enrolling in 1944 at Morehouse College, the alma mater of his father and maternal grandfather, where he completed a Bachelor's degree in sociology.
4. In 1963, King was the first African-American to be named Time magazine's Man of the Year. He has also been awarded 20 honorary degrees while he was alive from colleges and universities across the US and around the world including Newcastle University, Yale University, and Amsterdam Free University.
5. From 1957 to 1968, King traveled over 6 million miles and spoke over 2,500 times. He traveled across the nation, visiting cities for speeches and protests, and wrote five books in these 11 years.
7. More than 1,000 streets in the world are named after King, with at least955 of those streets in the United States. Countries with streets named after the civil rights leader include Italy, Israel, Jamaica, France, and South Africa.
8. There are currently more than 50 statues commemorating King worldwide, including one in England at Westminster Abbey, in Cuba, and Mexico City.
9. King is the only non-president to have a national holiday in his name. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that would establish a nationally observed holiday in remembrance of King. He is also the only non-president with a memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
10. King was nearly assassinated 10 years before his death. On September 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s department store when he was approached by Izola Ware Curry. Curry told King she had been looking for him for five years before plunging a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. King underwent hours of delicate emergency surgery. From his hospital bed where he recuperated for weeks, King issued a statement affirming his non-violent principles and saying he felt no ill will toward his attacker.
Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies.
She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content.