Happy MLK Day!
As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we would like to share with you 10 interesting facts about the Civil Rights icon.
1. His Birth Name Is Michael King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, as Michael King, Jr. after his father Michael King, Sr.
But after a trip to Germany in the late 1930’s, his father changed his name to Martin in honor of the theologian who initiated the Protestant Reformation.
Thus, changing Michael, Jr.’s name to Martin. Despite the name change his family still called him “ML” or “Mike.”
2. MLK Allegedly Tried To Commit Suicide
Martin grew up in this two-story Queen Anne style house on Auburn Ave. In 1941, Martin fell out of the second story window after finding out his grandmother had passed away from a heart attack while he was at a parade without his parent’s permission.
It was often speculated that the guilt and grief led 12-year-old Martin’s suicide attempt. His father later revealed, “He cried off and on for several days afterward, and was unable to sleep at night.”
3. Dr. King Was A Trekkie
Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed the iconic Uhura in Star Trek revealed Martin encouraged her to stay on the show when she was thinking about quitting to return to musical theater.
“He told me that Star Trek was one of the only shows that he and his wife Coretta would allow their little children to watch. And I thanked him and I told him I was leaving the show. The smile came off his face. And he said, don’t you understand for the first time, we’re seen as we should be seen. You don’t have a black role. You have an equal role.” Nichols stayed.
4. He’s A Grammy Winner
King is a Grammy winner. He posthumously won in 1971 for Best Spoken Word Album for “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam.”
The speech from which the album was made was delivered April 30, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City.
5. MLK’s Mother Was Murdered
Six years after his death, King’s mother, Alberta Williams King, was also murdered.
On June 30, 1974, she was inside Ebenezer Baptist Church playing the organ when she was shot and killed by 23-year-old Marcus Wayne Chenault.
6. Time Magazine ‘Man of the Year’
In 1963, King became the first African-American to be named Time magazine’s Man of the Year. Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie was named in 1936.
The only other African-American to get the honor was Barack Obama, who was named twice.
7. Funeral Home Honeymoon
King married Coretta Scott on June 18, 1953. Martin Luther King Sr. performed the ceremony in the yard of the Scott home in Perry County, Alabama.
After the reception, the new couple spent their honeymoon night in a black funeral home in Marion, Al., because no white hotel would register them.
They would have four children — Yolanda, Martin Luther King III, Dexter and Bernice.
8. Martin & Malcolm Only Met Once
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X only met once on March 26, 1964. King was leaving a meeting at the U.S. Senate, when Malcolm X stepped out of the crowd to block his path. Malcolm — who had called King a chump, among other things — extended his hand.
“Well, Malcolm, good to see you,” King said, holding Malcolm X’s hand. “Good to see you,” Malcolm X replied. Both men smiled as photographers captured the moment. The encounter lasted less than a minute and the two never saw each other again.
9. MLK Was A Pool Shark
Although he was a preacher and had three degrees, King was also somewhat of a pool shark.
In an effort to reach as many people as possible, King would sometimes go to pool halls, to meet with those he couldn’t find in church, and whip them.
10. Martin’s Last Words
On April 4, at about 6 p.m., while he was getting ready to go to dinner, King stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel and told musician Ben Branch to play his favorite song, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.”
A King biographer said those were his last words. At 6:01 p.m., a bullet fired from a flop house across the street, cut King down.
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