As you certainly already know, Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights pioneer and American icon. Naturally, there is a lot we’ve learned about him over the years. But besides the basics of him fighting for equal rights for African Americans and standing up against segregation, there was is much much more that people don’t know about the legendary Martin Luther King Jr. Although the basic facts, like his birthday being a national holiday, are common knowledge for most of us, there is so much more than meets the eye when it comes to MLK Jr. In honor of his values, his legacy, and the mark he has made on history, here are some little known facts about one of the most iconic civil rights leaders of all time.
His name wasn’t really Martin Luther
At least, not originally. In fact, Martin Luther King Jr. was born Michael King Jr.! Martin Luther King Jr.’s father was a pastor at Ebenezer’s Baptist Church in Atlanta; after traveling to Germany and learning about Protestant leader Martin Luther, he came home and changed both his name as well as his young son’s. Thus, Martin Luther King Jr. and Sr. were born.
He was a total smartypants
No but seriously. Although higher education was still largely elusive for Black Americans, not only did Martin Luther King Jr. go to college at the age of 15, but he received a degree in sociology as well as a doctorate from Boston University. Pair that with the fact that he was ordained before he even finished his undergrad degree and we think it’s safe to say that he achieved the err, holy Trinity, of education.
MLK Jr. went to jail more times than you think
In fact, 29 times to be exact. While some of those charges were for civil disobedience and other forms of protest, other charges were exaggerated for the sake of punishing him: like the time he was arrested for going a mere 5 miles per hour over the speed limit.
He was the victim of assassination efforts more than once
At a book signing in 1958, Martin Luther King Jr. was stabbed by Izola Ware Curry. He narrowly escaped what was almost a terminal wound. Surgeons told King that a mere sneeze would have ruined his chances of surviving the stabbing due to the wounds close proximity to his aorta.
He was a master at ~foreshadowing~
Sadly, there was something very eery about his last public speech in April 1968 at Mason Temple Church. He told the crowd:
A little chilling, right? It remains a tragedy that such a brilliant life was cut so short.
But on a more positive note…
MLK Jr. and George Washington are in an elite crew
The nation’s first president is the only person besides Martin Luther King Jr. whose birthday is deemed a national holiday. Talk about #squadgoals.