Martin Luther King Jr. went from a regular Baptist minister all the way to the leader of the civil rights movement in the United States. He ‘had a dream’ and his dream changed the lives of countless people, including the very course of our country. While Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, his very message still lives on today. Though he is a popular historical figure, and one every person should know about, there are some surprising facts bubbling just below the surface. Listed below are 12 widely unknown, yet incredible, facts about the great Martin Luther King Jr.
King joined college at the age of 15.
We suppose that you have to be some sort of gifted to turn into a Nobel Peace Prize winning Civil Rights hero. It doesn’t surprise us to learn that King was a gifted and intelligent student throughout his early years. He was so intelligent, and so gifted in fact, that King managed to skip four years of schooling in order to go straight to college. King enrolled in 1944 at Morehouse College, the school that his father and grandfather had attended. King would graduate with a degree in sociology but before doing so he would be ordained.
Martin was once named Michael.
Martin Luther King Jr. was originally named Michael King Jr., just like his father, however this all changed on a family trip. King and his family went to visit Germany where they met a pastor that helped convince them to change their names. they would change their names to Martin Luther in honor of the famous German Protestant hero from the annals of history. Can you imagine if Martin had been named Michael instead? What power is there in a name? We’re not sure that anything would be changed, but it is fun to think about.
MLK had been jailed 29 times in his life.
We can’t hold this statistic against the great MLK as his getting jailed was one of the most useful techniques in the book of civil disobedience. King would routinely get arrested for civil disobedience while marching for equality and even when he wasn’t marching he was the target of unfair charges being leveled against him. One time King was even thrown in jail for driving 30 MPH in a 25 MPH speed zone. Can you believe it? Yet for all of this diversity and very clear struggle, King never lost his way and he never lost focus of what he was trying to do.
King had once attempted to kill himself.
As someone who struggles with anxiety disorder treatment, it is completely relatable to know that King didn’t always have it easy. In fact, at 12 years old the young Martin Luther King Jr. had jumped out of his own second story window in the throes of his own depression. the igniter for this suicide attempt was the loss of his grandmother, who had died. Whether you suffer from debilitating anxiety or depression, there is always help out there. Treatment for anxiety and depression can be done via anxiety self help or with the work of a professional. It should give people hope that MLK was able to bounce back and become one of the most important people in American history despite his own struggles.
King and his wife, Coretta, spent their honeymoon in a funeral parlor.
A wedding should be one of the most joyous days of someone’s life and their honeymoon should be almost as good. Yet in a clear sign of the struggles of the time, MLK and his wife Coretta were not able to go on a real honeymoon due to the color of their skin. So instead of spending their honeymoon somewhere beautiful where they could soak up their fresh nuptials, they instead enjoyed their honeymoon at a funeral parlor owned by a friend. Somehow these little injustices seem to be all the more evocative to us.
MLK’s mother was also shot to death.
While the King family preached nonviolence in their fight for equality, two primary members of the family would end up shot to death. Alberta Williams King was at a Church service playing pieano when Marcus Chenault Jr. drew two pistols and shot both Alberta and another church deacon. Chenault Jr. said that he was on a mission from God to kill Christians and, in particularly, King’s father. Alberta, however, happened to be sitting closer to the gunman and so she was killed. Still, the King family fought to have the gunman saved from capital punishment, instead sentencing him to life in jail.
The FBI was watching Martin Luther King Jr. very closely.
There have been numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the life and death of Martin Luther King Jr. but some of them may have merit. The FBI closely monitored MLK to the point that they actually would end up labeling him “the most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country”. This label came right after King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Pretty insane to see just how far removed from decency the FBI was at the time.
King was almost stabbed to death.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a few brushes with death before his assassination with one of the scariest occurring in 1958 at a book signing. King had been signing books for people in the store when a woman managed to get through and stab him. The stab wound was so close to his actual aorta that so much as a light sneeze could have seen the Nobel Peace Prize winner killed. The woman had used a long letter opener and had told King that she had ‘traveled to see him’ which, as it turns out, wasn’t exactly the best sort of news MLK could have hoped for. The woman was later found to be mentally ill but we doubt that made him feel any better.
Apparently he was a huge Trekkie.
While it is easy to see Martin Luther King Jr. marching in the streets or quietly reading in his study, it is harder by far to imagine him as just a regular guy enjoying Star Trek. However, we found out that King was a huge Trekkie and he even went so far as to convince actress Nichelle Nichols to stay on the show and continue playing the character Uhura. Nichols had wanted to leave Star Trek after the first season but she ended up changing her mind.
He was the oldest man to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
in as great an honor as can be had for his work, Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Martin Luther King Jr. was only 35 years old when he received the prestigious award, which made him the youngest man to ever be awarded with the prize. To this date MLK is still the youngest person to have ever acquired this piece of prestige and we can safely say that it was well earned.
King’s wife believes that he was murdered by the government.
Martin Luther King Jr. was obviously a lightning rod of controversy thanks to the way he stood up for what was right. This turned people quickly to conspiracy when King was eventually assassinated. King’s widow, Coretta King, believed that the Mafia was working hand in hand with the federal government to organize the assassination. Dexter King, MLK’s son, loudly demanded that the case investigating his fathers death be re-opened after meeting James Earl Ray, the man who shot King. Despite the loud cries of King’s family there has been no real evidence of conspiracy.
King essentially predicted his own death.
It was April 1968 and King was giving a speech at the Mason Temple Church. In his speech to the congregation, most of whom were African American garbage workers on strike, King told the gathered, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now”. This was King’s last public speech before his assassination and it is absolutely chilling to think about the gravity of the words that he chose to say. Was there a conspiracy surrounding MLK’s death? We saw above that his family members believed so but who knows? No real evidence has ever been foudn.