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5 Interesting Facts About the Legendary Civil Activist Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ana Campos, Senior Librarian, International Languages Department,
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his office with his wife, Coretta, in Atlanta, Georgia, [1962]. Herald Examiner Collection

The birthday of civil activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is celebrated on the third Monday of January in the United States. Dr. King fought for the civil rights of African-Americans with peaceful demonstrations. It was after his death that there was a movement to make his birthday a holiday. In 1980 Stevie Wonder wrote and sang the song "Happy Birthday" to give attention to this movement. Finally, 15 years after Dr. King's death in 1983, Congress passed the legislation, which was signed into law by the president.

Here are five interesting facts about the legendary civil activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

  1. Michael King, Jr. (his original name) was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929. At age 5, his father changed his name to Martin Luther in honor of the German theologian of the same name.
  2. Dr. King was very intelligent, which is why he advanced two grades in high school and began his studies at the age of 15 at Morehouse College.
  3. In 1964 he received the Nobel Peace Prize making him one of the youngest people to receive it.
  4. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, TN. This happened ten years after an attempt on his life in 1958.
  5. More than 900 streets in the United States are named after Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thanks to the fight of Martin Luther King, Jr., the laws changed to give African Americans and other minority communities more equality.

Further Reading

Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968: An Ebony Picture Biography

History Kids: Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Essential Martin Luther King, Jr.
King, Jr., Dr. Martin Luther

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Carson, Clayborne

King: Man Of Peace In A Time Of War