Doctor King was one of many influential Civil Rights leaders and as such we continue to celebrate his accomplishments as well as those who came before him and after. While MLK Day is something we celebrate every year, you might be surprised to learn that there are some little known facts about the holiday and King himself.
His real name was not Martin
While we commonly refer to him as Doctor King or Martin Luther King Jr. he was actually born with the birth name of Michael. If you guessed that his name was later changed to reflect that of the great German Protestant reformist Martin Luther you would be right.
King is one of two Americans to have their birthday as a national holiday
Surprisingly Martin Luther King Jr. is only one of two Americans in history to have their birthday as a national holiday. The only other American to have their birthday recognized is George Washington. His birthday of course is the holiday we know today as Presidents Day.
MLK entered college at a very young age
Education is very important and Martin Luther King Jr. was proof of that. Believe it or not Martin entered college at the very young age of fifteen. He would graduate from Morehouse College with a B.A. in Sociology in 1948.
Martin Luther King was a smoker
A little known piece of trivia about Doctor King was that he was a smoker. He hated the habit and didn’t want his children to follow suit so he made every effort to hide the fact that he smoked from them. He went as far as to never smoke around them and never have his picture taken while he smoked.
The minister that almost wasn’t
Though he is known for leading his church and following in his father’s footsteps as a minister, King actually considered teaching for a time. This was in part because he was unsure of the future he wanted to pursue and also due to the fact that he was offered a teaching job.
King was the youngest male ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize
Another fun fact is that Martin Luther King Jr. was the youngest ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He received the honor at the age of thirty five in 1954 and would hold the title until it was won by Tawakkol Karman in 2011.
Martin Luther King Day wasn’t fully observed by all states until 2000
Believe it or not, while Martin Luther King Day was declared a Federal holiday, it was not fully observed by all fifty states until the year 2000 when Utah joined in observing it.