Trekkie, Grammy Award winner, World Shaker. These titles rarely go hand in hand with Martin Luther King, Jr. Okay, maybe that last one. But he was more than a man who changed the course of civil rights, he changed every part of this world. He influenced more than what many perceived, he influenced a generation and continues to influence people, actions, and decisions to this day. Here are some interesting and little-known facts about the man himself and the holiday that commemorates him.
Same Year, Different Eras
Most people associate Anne Frank with Nazi Germany of the 1940’s. These same people associate Martin Luther King, Jr., with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. But unbelievably, both Anne and Martin were born on the same year – 1929.
Michael Who, now?
Born Michael King, Jr., his father, Michael King, Sr. attended the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin, Germany in August of 1934. There, he met the Lutheran reformer Martin Luther. It was during this specific visit that Michael King, Sr. was inspired greatly by Martin Luther that upon his return to the United States, he changed both his and his son Michael’s name to that of the German theologian. Georgia law did not require a legal name change, however in 1957, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth certificate was officially changed to that of Martin Luther.
A Trekkie at Heart
With the Civil Rights Movement propelling forward and the need for positive African-American portrayals in film and television, King looked to the Science Fiction community and changed the course of one woman’s life – thus changing the viewing public’s lives as well.
Nichelle Nichols once contemplated quitting her run as the powerful and clever Uhura on Star Trek. However, after meeting Martin, his words of encouragement changed her career as she made the decision to stay on as Uhura. It was the inspiring affections from her biggest fan that prodded her to continue on the hard but worthwhile journey of being a much-needed model character.
Step Aside George Solti
In 1971, “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam” won the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album making Martin Luther King, Jr., an official Grammy winner. As someone who has received many awards and has been recognized through several different medals, Grammy Award Winner is probably the least likely, but undeniably deserved.
Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b80Bsw0UG-U&noredirect=1
In Remembrance, Intelligence plus Character is the Goal of True Education
It is the hunger to be educated in equality, that led John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) to move the process forward in obtaining a day of remembrance for the legendary Civil Rights leader after his assassination in 1968. It is this hunger of true education where intelligence meets character.
“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. ” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
MLK Day Boycott
States left and right were adopting MLK Day as a holiday and in most cases, even a paid holiday. However, in 1989, Arizona replaced Columbus Day with MLK Day. This sparked a boycott. With Arizonans given the opportunity to vote to observe Martin Luther King Day and with state legislature passing a measure to keep both Columbus and MLK Day, the National Football League felt it best to move the Super Bowl to Pasadena after 76% of the people rejected to observe King’s holiday. This resulted in the state of Arizona losing out on $500 million and the chance to host 1993’s big game.
A Global Connection
Though the United States did not reach entire observance of King’s commemorative holiday until 2000, countries abroad shared in the unification of MLK Day. Japan, Canada, and Israel have all, in some small way, paid tribute to the late Civil Rights leader through special commemorations and holidays. It is with similar, beautiful acts that King, and so many others like him, strived to better the world’s viewpoint of seeing one another for the content of the character and not judging them on the color of their skin.
“…I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character… ” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.