As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day this coming Monday, many know him for his work on Civil rights and his famous oratory, particularly, the “I have a Dream” Speech which took place at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington Dc on April 1963. However, Dr. King’s legacy is much greater than this. There are many interesting facts about his life as well as the holiday that commemorates his name.
Here are some trivia or lesser-known facts about Dr. King Jr. and the Holiday.
Dr. King was very young.
That’s correct. Many of Dr. King’s accolades took place while he was relatively young. In fact, he received the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35, the youngest man to win the prize. Tragically, his assassination took place in 1968 when he was 39.
Dr. King was very intelligent.
Dr. King skipped the 9th and 12th grades and entered Morehouse College at the age of 15. He obtained two undergraduate degrees, one in sociology from Morehouse; the other was in Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary. He also obtained a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Boston University.
The Attacker in the Dr. King’s Previous Assassination attempt is reportedly still alive.
In September 1958, a 42-year-old black woman named Izola Ware Curry attempted to stab Dr. King to death with a letter opener. After the stabbing incident, Curry was taken into custody and was found to be incompetent to stand trial for assault charges. She was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was committed to the Matteawan State Hospital for the criminally insane according to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. According to a documentary called, When Harlem Saved A King, Ms. Curry is alleged to be alive, although she was born in 1916.
The Road to create a Martin Luther King Dr. was long and difficult.
In 1968, the first legislation was introduced by U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan to make King’s birthday a federal holiday. The bill was finally turned into law in November 1983 and the first official holiday was observed on the third Monday of January in 1986. In 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service, which is led by Corporation for National and Community Service. The holiday is set for the 3rd Monday in January although January 15th is Dr. King’s actual birthday. On May 2, 2000, South Carolina governor Jim Hodges signed a bill to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday an official state holiday. South Carolina was the last state to recognize the day as a paid holiday for all state employees.
Dr. King has received great acclaim during his lifetime and after his assassination.
Because of his long and strong support for justice, civil rights, and for peace, Dr. King was arrested over 30 times. Yet, during his lifetime, he was awarded at least 50 honorary degrees from colleges and universities for this struggle. Now, there are more than 900 streets named after him in the United States. There are even streets and centers in other nations such as the Martin Luther King Center in Havana, Cuba named his honor.
For further information about Dr. King and the MLK Holiday, visit The King Center website or the Corporation for National & Community Service.