“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
– Martin Luther King jr.
Today we celebrate a great man’s birthday, Martin Luther King Jr. He was born on January 15, 1929, and died on April 4, 1968.
Who was Martin Luther King Jr, and what did he do? No figure is more closely identified with the mid-20th century struggle for civil rights than Martin Luther King, Jr. His adoption of nonviolent resistance to achieve equal rights for Black Americans earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
He was the driving force behind watershed events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington, which helped bring about such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered each year on Martin Luther King Jr Day.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., I thought it would be fun to look at five surprising facts about him.
1) He was named after Protestant reformer Martin Luther. His original name was Michael King Jr. His father was named Michael King Sr. Michael King Sr. traveled the world. During his travel, he became fascinated with Martin Luther and, upon return to the states, changed his name as well as his five-year-old son’s name to Martin Luther in honor of the protestant reformation leader. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth certificate reflected this change on July 2, 1957.
2) He entered College at 15. He skipped two grades, went to Morehouse College in 1944, and graduated in 1948. He then went to seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. Even though he received a C in public speaking, he was elected Student Body President and was valedictorian in 1951. Luther received his Ph.D. when he was 25.
3) He was arrested 29 times (many charges were dropped). His arrests ranged from civil disobedience to traffic violations.
4) He survived an assassination attempt a decade before his death. He was doing a book signing, and a woman named Izola Ware Curry slipped past the line of people to approach him. When she asked if he was Martin Luther King, he replied, “Yes.” She then stabbed him with a seven-inch letter opener. She claimed that he had ties to the Communist Party. The stab narrowly missed his heart. He endured emergency surgeries that lasted for hours. After the incident, Martin Luther King Jr. affirmed his nonviolent beliefs and stated he had no malicious feelings toward his attacker.
5) After his death, his family filed a civil case against the government and won. On December 8, 1999, twelve jurors unanimously decided that King's death resulted from a conspiracy. There was four weeks of testimony and seventy witnesses. There was overwhelming evidence that James Earl Ray was not the shooter but was set up to take the blame. The family received $100 and donated it to charity.
The post 5 Things to Know: Surprising Facts About Martin Luther King came from Shannon C. Social media volunteer at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
I hope you found these facts interesting. Enjoy your day and remember the price that an American paid for Civil Rights!