Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is on January 15, yet his national federal holiday is celebrated on the third Monday of his birth month. The petition for Dr. King’s day started in 1968, shortly after he was assassinated. Find out more little-known facts and fascinating trivia regarding this iconic civil rights leader during the turbulent 1960s. You may be surprised what you’ll find out, especially with regards to his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
He was born Michael Luther King, Jr. It wasn’t until later that his father changed both of their first names to Martin, in honor of the protestant reformation leader, Martin Luther.
Church Choir Singer and Grammy Winner
Atlanta’s gala premiere of “Gone With the Wind” in 1939 featured King singing with his church’s choir. In 1971 he was awarded a posthumous Grammy for Best Spoken Word Recording of “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam.”
All 50 States Now Honor MLK Day
This may be very surprising to know. As of the year 2000 all 50 states now honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a federal holiday. Before that it was considered optional. President Reagan signed the bill in 1983. It later became a legal holiday in January 1986.
Nobel Peace Laureate
Only 35 years old at the time, Dr. King became the youngest recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize given out in Oslo, Norway. At the Nobel Peace Prize official website he still remains the most popular Peace Laureate, followed by Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa.
Time’s Man of the Year
Time magazine honored King with its annual Man of the Year in 1963. He became the first African-American to grace its cover.
While at a 1958 book signing in Harlem, New York for his book “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story,” Dr. King was stabbed in the chest with a seven-inch steel letter opener by a mentally disturbed woman named Izola Ware Curry. King was immediately rushed to the hospital. His stab wound was only inches from his aorta.
“I Have a Dream” Almost Wasn’t
During the eve of the speech he was to give, 50 years ago at the Lincoln Memorial, one of his advisors suggested to drop any mention of the word “dream” in it. There was concern it would be too cliché. Originally the speech was titled “Normalcy – Never Again.” Martin Luther King, Jr. also met with his advisors the night before in the lobby of the Willard Hotel instead of his suite. The reason being it was more difficult for the FBI to wiretap in a public area. Dr. King was up until 4 a.m. working on the historic “I Have a Dream” speech.