Martin Luther King Jr. was a historic civil rights leader who played a key role in the civil rights movement and continues to inspire the movement for equality today. While MLK is famous for his “I Have A Dream” speech, there are many facts you might not know about the famous civil rights leader. Read on to explore five fascinating facts about Martin Luther King Jr.
- In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill to create a federal holiday in recognition of King. The first Martin Luther King Jr holiday was celebrated on the third Monday in January in 1986. The holiday is celebrated close to MLK’s birthday, January 15th, and George Washington is the only other American to have his birthday observed as a national holiday.
- According to the King Center, the civil rights leader went to jail 29 times in his life. He was arrested for things like civil disobedience and driving 30 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone.
- Before his death, King escaped a previous assassination attempt. In 1958, a woman named Izola Ware Curry approached King at a book signing. After confirming it was King, Curry said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years” and stabbed a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. The blade narrowly missed his aorta and King was in emergency surgery for hours. During his recovery, King issued a statement saying he felt no ill will toward his attacker.
- In 1968, the night before his assassination, King was in Memphis giving a speech to support the strike of the city’s black garbage workers. He told the audience, “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.” After his assassination, it was thought that in this last public speech King foresaw his own death.
- At the age of 15, King enrolled in Morehouse College in 1944. In doing this, he skipped grades nine and 12. Not only was he an extremely gifted individual, he was ordained before graduating with a Sociology degree.
Martin Luther King was an extremely talented, passionate civil rights leader who was instrumental to the civil rights movement. He completed many great things during his lifetime and is still learned about in schools today.