7 Things You Might Not Know About Martin Luther King Jr.

Most of us know the basics about great civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr., but there are several facts about King that aren’t common knowledge and are rarely taught in history class. You probably know that Martin Luther King Jr. was a social activist and Baptist minister who fought hard for civil rights beginning in the mid-1950s until his death in April of 1968, but you might be surprised by what you don’t know. Below, we’ve listed the most fascinating and surprising facts about the late Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

7. His Birth Name Was Michael

We’re all familiar with the name Martin Luther King Jr, but most people don’t know the famous civil rights activist was actually given the name Michael King Jr when he was born. Martin Luther King Jr was actually named Michael King Jr. at birth, after his father, who was also originally named Michael King. When Michael King Sr. became a minister, he changed his first name to Martin, and King Jr later followed suit, though his father initially did not approve of the name change.

6. He Went To College At Age 15

Thanks to a special wartime program aimed at boosting enrollment by allowing select high school students to enroll, King was admitted to Moorehouse College at the young age of 15 after passing the college’s entrance exams. At the age of 19, King graduated from Moorehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. King later attended Crozer Theological Seminary in Boston, MA, where he earned a B.Div, and eventually went on to earn a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955.

 5. He Was Arrested 30 Times

Dr. King was no stranger to the inside of a jail cell, after being arrested a total of 30 times in his lifetime, according to the King Center. He was arrested several times for civil disobedience, as well as several times for what many believe were trumped-up charges. For example, King was once jailed in Montgomery, AL after being stopped for driving 30 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. His first arrest was in 1955 during the Montgomery bus boycott, a boycott that eventually led to segregation on buses being deemed unconstitutional. Dr. King continued fighting for civil rights, despite his many arrests.

4. His Last Speech Foreshadowed His Assassination



In April of 1968, King arrived in Memphis to support the strike by the city’s black garbage workers. In his speech the night before he was assassinated, King he said, “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.” King was shot and killed the next day.

Kenneth spent several years as a chef before embarking on his writing career, and he hasn't looked back since. Find Kenneth on LinkedIn!

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