Unless you live under a rock, you most likely know that Martin Luther King, Jr., was a humanitarian and civil rights activist who played a huge role in the African-American Civil Rights Movement and gave the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. But these aren’t the only things that define MLK; to gain a deeper understanding of this inspiring leader, you have to dig deeper and learn more about his personal and professional life. You can start by browsing through these interesting facts about him.
1. His Legal Birth Name Was Michael
MLK was born Michael King, Jr., named after his father Michael Sr. However, his father decided to change his name when he became inspired by Martin Luther (who lead the Protestant Reformation) while attending the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress in Germany. Michael Sr. changed his name as well as his son’s to Martin Luther King.
2. He Skipped Grades Twice
We all know that MLK was smart, but he demonstrated just how smart he was early on, when he was allowed to skipped grades 9 and 11 (with some saying 12). Because of his accelerated education, he entered college when he was only 15 years old. He studied sociology in Morehouse College and became an ordained minister even before he graduated.
3. He Once Received a Low Grade In Public Speaking
Martin Luther King was a champion orator, and it’s difficult to think of him as anything but. However, during his first year at seminary school, he received a C in public speaking. This surprised his entire family and most especially his father, who believed that his son was the most skillful speaker he had ever met. Nobody really knows why this happened, although some suspect that MLK was affected by the pressures of studying in a predominantly white college and dealing with difficult classes that were designed for older students (he was 19 when he entered seminary school). Fortunately, MLK was able to pull through and graduate as valedictorian.
4. He Was Influenced By Mohandas Gandhi
While he was in seminary school, MLK attended a lecture about Gandhi and greatly admired the philosophy of nonviolence. This concept influenced the decisions that MLK made later on, convincing him to promote African-American civil rights in a peaceful way and make his point through peaceful protests.
5. He Was The Youngest Nobel Peace Prize Winner In 1964
Malala Yousafzai currently holds this record when she became awarded with the prize at 17 years old. However, during his time, Martin Luther King held the honor of being the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient at 35 years old.
6. He Was Jailed Many Times
Despite his commitment to nonviolence, Martin Luther King was still sent to jail 29 times. Some of these were attributed to acts of civil disobedience, while others resulted from false accusations. One of these mentioned that MLK was allegedly over-speeding in a 25-miles-per-hour zone.
Martin Luther King was one of the greatest leaders in the world, and his journey teaches us that nonviolence can be effective in attaining equality.