What don't you know about Martin Luther King Jr.?

·3 min read

Martin Luther King Jr. is well known for his public oratory and his fiery sermons, but there was more to the man than the fact he was well spoken. A History Channel website has 10 things that you may not know about Martin Luther King Jr. For instance, his birth name was Michael King Jr., but his father (King Sr.) visited Germany and became acquainted with Martin Luther, the Protestant theologian from the 16th Century, when King was 5. King Sr. changed both of their names in admiration of the reformer.

Martin Luther King bypassed the 9th and 12th grades in high school enabling him to start Morehouse College at the age of 15. There he studied Sociology and was ordained as a minister. King went on to pursue a divinity degree and a PhD by the time he was 25.

By the time he was 28 he had spoken before crowds of 15,000 to 30,000 people, delivered a national address on voting rights and become a recognized figure in the civil rights movement. By the time he was 35 he had earned a Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest to ever do so until 2011. In 1971, he won a Grammy award posthumously for an anti-Vietnam War speech that was recorded prior to his death.

Some of King’s most famous and poignant speeches were written in prison and he may have spent some significant time there. While protesting for civil rights, he was jailed 29 times though some of the charges were for as little as driving five miles over the speed limit.

He had two assassination attempts made against him, one when he was just 29 years old by a mentally ill woman, and while dangerous, proved non-fatal. The second attempt in 1968 killed him in Memphis at the age of 39. Alberta Williams King, Martin’s mother, was killed by a mentally ill gunman in 1974 inside of the Ebenezer Baptist Church where she was playing the organ during the Sunday service.

In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Nichelle Nichols (who played Lieutenant Uhura in the original Star Trek) describes meeting Martin Luther King Jr. After a conversation with her she changed her mind about continuing with the show because King helped her see that her “character signified a future of greater racial harmony and cooperation.”

King told Nichols, "You are our image of where we're going, you're 300 years from now, and that means that's where we are and it takes place now. Keep doing what you're doing, you are our inspiration." He also went on to say that Star Trek was the only show that Coretta would let the children watch because it showed equal roles.

The Abilene Public Library has over 100 items on Dr. Martin Luther King. Children will find many choices of books about his life, his challenges and his speeches. Adults will find biographies, speeches, histories of the civil rights movement and books of quotations from Dr. King on the shelves in the Abilene Public Library system. There are also DVDs that portray his life, times and legacy. Come explore and find out even more about Dr. King.

This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: What don't you know about Martin Luther King Jr.?