Dr. King delivered a version of his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech at Detroit’s Cobo Hall on June 23, 1963. The speech took place more than two months before the March on Washington. In front of an estimated 25,000 people, King talked about his ‘dream’ of having his four little children judged by others based on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.
Martin Luther King was actually born “Michael King.” King’s father, who was also named Michael, reportedly changed both of their names to Martin Luther after a trip to Germany in 1931. The name change was never filed legally.
The ‘Mountaintop’ speech King gave the night before he was assassinated in 1968 almost didn’t happen. King was exhausted from his travels and had a slight fever. He planned to rest but was summoned to speak because so many had gathered at the Memphis church.
Dr. King was a fan of Star Trek. He personally convinced Nichelle Nichols to remain on the show as her character ‘Uhura,’ after she had considered leaving after just one season. Nichols met King at a NAACP fundraiser.
King entered Morehouse College at the age of 15. He graduated with a bachelors degree in sociology at 19. At 25, he completed his doctorate at Boston University.
Martin Luther King won a Grammy. In 1971, King earned music’s highest honor posthumously for Best Spoken Word Recording. (‘Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam’)
King’s assassination in 1968 was not the first attempt on his life. On September 20, 1958, a woman named Izola Curry stabbed King at a book signing in Harlem. King nearly died from the incident.
Although ‘MLK Day’ was first observed in 1986, all 50 states didn’t officially recognize the holiday until 2000. Utah was the last state to make it official, renaming its ‘Human Rights Day’ holiday after King.
King felt the hatred and hostility expressed to him in Chicago was deeper than states in the Deep South such as Mississippi and Alabama. King visited Chicago in 1966 to protest housing segregation.
King’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ was in part inspired by a newspaper article in the Birmingham News. The article quoted several white clergymen who thought King’s presence was ‘unwise and untimely.’ King responded famously from jail.
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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched for equal rights, fair housing and decent wages for all. He also won a Grammy award.
King’s life was full of so many incredible experiences and speeches, it’s easy to forget some of the things he actually accomplished. There’s just so much.
Before King was leading bus boycotts and freedom marches, he was entering Morehouse College – at 15. By the time he was 25, he earned his doctorate in systematic theology at Boston University.
King advocated for workers to receive fair wages and equal opportunities to buy homes. He also loved Star Trek. At a NAACP fundraiser, he convinced Nichelle Nichols to remain on the show after she told him she was leaving.
Nichols’ character, ‘Uhura,’ was groundbreaking and too important for her to walk away from he told her.
On today’s MLK Day holiday, take a look at ten other interesting and little known facts of King’s life. Some – or all- may surprise you.