7 Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Martin Luther King Jr.

When most think about Martin Luther King Jr. — the famous “I Have A Dream” speech comes to mind.

But do you know everything there is to know about Martin Luther King Jr.-? Like how Martin is not his real name?

Image via National Park Service

Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth name was actually not Martin.

It may surprise most to find out that he was his actual name was Michael.

Born on January, 15, 1929, his father, who was a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader — Martin Luther.

And so, King Sr. changed his own name — as well as his 5-year old sons’.

Another interesting fact? King went to college at the ripe age of 15 years old.

That’s correct — King was so talented that he skipped both grades nine and 12 prior to enrolling in 1944 at Morehouse College — which was the Alma Marta of his father as well as maternal grandfather.

And though he was the son, grandson as well as great grandson of Baptist ministers — King was not planning on following in his family’s footsteps.

That was, until noted theologian Benjamin E. Mays, Morehouse president, convinced him it was his true calling. King was then ordained before he graduated college with a degree in sociology.

Image via Wikipedia

Another interesting fact about Dr. King?

He received his doctorate in systematic theology. After he earned a divinity degree from Pennslyvania’s Crozer Theological Seminary, King attended graduate school at Boston University. It was there that he received his Ph.D. degree in 1955 — and can you guess the title of his dissertation?

“A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”

Did you also know that Dr.King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech was not his first at the Lincoln memorial?

Actually, six years before the March on Washington on May 17, 1957, King was among the civil rights leaders who spoke in the shadow of the Great Emancipator during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom.

King delivered his first national address in front of a crowd estimated between 15,000 and 30,000 regarding voting rights. In his speech, he urged America to “give us the ballot,” — which drew in positive reviews and moved him up to the being the focal point of civil rights leadership.

In fact, according to the King Center, King was actually imprisoned for his good deeds — 29 to be exact.

Image via Wikipedia

He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience as well as charges that were very minor, like driving 30 mph in a 25-miles-per-hour zone.

And one decade before his death, King just barely escaped an assignation.

When King was in Harlem on September 20, 1958 — King was busy signing copies of his book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s department store when he was approached by a woman named Izola Ware Curry.

She asked Martin Luther King Junior if he was in fact, the Martin Luther King Junior.

To which he replied, yes — and Curry followed with, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” plunging a seven-inch letter opener into his chest.

It was discovered that the blade rested alongside his aorta — and King had to undergo hours of delicate emergency surgery.

Surgeons later told King that if he would have even sneezed, the blade could have punctured his aorta and killed him.

And last but certainly not least — most do not know that in King’s last speech, he prophesied his own death.

Image via Wikipedia

In April of 1968, King had arrived in Memphis to support the strike of the city’s black garbage workers — in a speech on the night prior to his assassination, he said the following to a group of people at the Mason Temple Church:

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now…I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

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