5 Surprising Things You Never Knew About Martin Luther King Jr.

If there's anyone in Black history we've consistently studied, it's Martin Luther King. But there are still some things you might not know (the fifth one is a trip)

Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Alabama thegrio.com
April 1965: Dr Martin Luther King (1929 - 1968) addresses civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

If you’ve been watching news coverage, perusing the internet or even listening to Black radio, you probably know that Wednesday marks 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was cut down by an assassin’s bullet at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.  In the half-century since his death, we’ve had a steady diet of history about this central figure in American human rights. But you also might wonder if there are things we don’t know. Here are five things that just might fit into that category.

A basketball legend has the original copy of the “I Have a Dream” speech. After giving his legendary ‘I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington, as Dr. King waved goodbye to the audience, he handed off the original typewritten copy of the speech to one of his security guards. That guard was George Raveling, an All-American shooting guard for Villanova, who had volunteered as a security guard for the event and was on the podium with King at that moment. Raveling went on to have a Hall of Fame career as a college hoops coach and – now 80-years-old – he still has that the original copy. He has been reportedly offered as much as $3 million for it, but he does not intend to sell it.

READ MORE: Witnesses forever changed by MLK’s final days

No. MLK was not a Republican. Almost every year around MLK Day, someone either puts up a billboard or some misguided member of the GOP will insist that Dr. King was a Republican and would support the GOP today. This is not true. Historians and scholars dismiss the assertion as absurd.

“Dr. King never believed in any kind of party identification,” the Rev. Lewis Baldwin told CNN. “He never allowed himself to become closely aligned with partisan politics. He occasionally said that that both the Democratic and Republican Party had betrayed his people.”

The idea that King was a Republican likely stemmed from King’s father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., being a Republican. It should be noted that the GOP of the early 20th Century was still “the party of Lincoln”. That, of course, started shifting in the 1950s and 60s as Democrats began championing civil rights, which pushed most of the former segregationists to the GOP by the 1970s.

King’s father even publicly shifted allegiance to the Democrats when President Kennedy displayed public sympathy for his son.

He entered Morehouse at 15 years old. Martin Luther King was a great orator and had a brilliant mind. So much so that he skipped ninth and 12th grade before enrolling in at Morehouse College at the age of just 15. While there, Morehouse president Benjamin E. Mays, a noted theologian, convinced him to go into the ministry and he was ordained before graduating with a degree in sociology.

READ MORE: Martin Luther King Jr., the labor movement and the American dream

MLK became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha while in graduate school. It is well known that MLK is one of the most famous members of Alpha Phi Alpha. But few pictures exist of him in Black & Gold. Most know that he was a part of the organization, but he actually joined while he was a graduate student at Boston University, initiated as a member of the Alphas’  Sigma Chapter in Boston while he was working on his Doctorate in Philosophy. You can see pictures of the young Alpha here.

MLK had a love affair with a white woman while in college. Something else, which has fully come to light recently, is that before he met his wife Corretta, King was in an interracial relationship while he was studying at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pa. in 1946. Obviously, interracial relationships – particularly those between Black men and white women – were not just taboo, but flat-out dangerous. A recent piece in Politico outlines the affair between King and Betty Moitz, whose name first popped up in a 1986 King biography. King never told his mother of the relationship for fear it would “disappoint her.”

Cyril Pyle, one of King’s classmates at Crozier said in 1986 “I thought it was a dangerous situation that could get out of hand, and if it did get out of hand it would smear King. It would make his future hard for him.” Well…turns out it didn’t.