MLK Day 2021: 10 Shocking Facts about His Birth, Life, and Death!

  • AUTHOR: anam
  • POSTED ON: January 18, 2021

Martin Luther King Jr – One of the greatest civil rights leaders in the history of the United States.

This man’s awe-inspiring journey and struggle are etched in our collective consciousness. While we know all the major milestones of his life, chances are we are unaware of the finer details of his story.

Today on January 18th, when the entire world is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, we are going to present to you the 10 shocking facts about his birth, life, and death.

1. His Birth Name Was Michael

King was born on January 15th, 1929 to Michael King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. They had named the child Michael King Jr. In 1934, when Michael King Sr. who was a minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta went to Germany and there he became inspired by Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformation leader. Upon his return, King Sr changed his name and his son’s to Martin Luther King.

2. He Was The Youngest Nobel Prize Winner At The Time

Martin Luther King Jr. received a Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35. This made him the youngest person to have received the honor. His efforts in fighting racial inequality in a peaceful and non-violent manner made him worthy of the prize. King also got a check for $54,123 along with the award. What he did with that money will surprise you.

Instead of keeping it for himself and living a luxurious life which he very well deserved, King donated all the money to different organizations. These included Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNCC), National Council of Negro Women, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) among others. His money was used to further the efforts of the civil rights movements.

3. King Gave Over 25,00 Speeches In His Life

In 1957, King was elected the president of SCLC, which was an organization that aided the growing civil rights movement. The group was formed on Christian values and it believed in achieving its goal in a peaceful way. King too operated on Christian values and he was also inspired by Gandhi’s teachings.

He spread his message by traveling across nations, visiting cities, and speaking to people. From 1957 to 1968, the civil rights leader traveled over 6 million miles, and he gave over 25,00 speeches. During these 11 years of struggle, King also wrote five books.

4. He Was Arrested 29 Times

King was perceived as a threat to American security and as a result, he was arrested by the police nearly 30 times. Moreover, he was also a concern for the FBI. The agency had paper trails on him and continued to thwart his progress.

5. He Has A National Holiday In His Name

On the third Monday of January of each year, the United States celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s life. What’s interesting is that he is the only non-president person in the United States to have a national holiday in his honor. It was President Ronald Reagan who signed a bill to establish a holiday in remembrance of King. This holiday was first celebrated in 1986 on a Monday close to MLK’s birthday. MLK Day 2021 is today on January 18th.

6. He Was Awarded 20 Honorary Degrees

Colleges and Universities from the US and the world gave King around 20 honorary degrees during his lifetime. He was also named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, making him the first African American to get the title.

7. 900 Streets In The US Are Named After The Civil Rights Leader

According to a Professor at the University of Tennessee, approximately 900 streets are named after MLK in the United States. Cities across the country renamed many streets in his honor after his death.

8. He Survived An Assassination Attempt

In 1958, when King was attending a book signing event in Harlem, he survived an assassination attempt. A woman approached him and said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” before sticking a letter opener in King’s chest. But thankfully, after hours of surgery, he survived. Ten years later, he was shot dead at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennesse.

9. His Mother Was Shot Dead

King had many enemies, so his family was also a target. In 1974, his mother Alberta was shot by a gunman who claimed he received “divine instruction” to kill King’s father. But because his mother was closer to him, the gunman shot her instead.

10. He Gave One Of His Best Speeches Before His Death

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now… I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,” these words of King’s foreshadowed his death. He gave this speech a night before his assassination.

These were the 10 things that everyone should know about the great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. He spent his life serving the people, and today we remember him in great light for all his efforts. No doubt, Google Doodle honors his legacy by displaying a doodle on its page today.

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Updated January 18, 2021
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