Martin Luther King is known as the “Father of the Civil Rights Movement.” Born on January 15, 1929, the Baptist minister was instrumental in ending the legal segregation of Blacks in the South and other areas in the United States. He was also known to have created the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which eventually were implemented into laws. And up until his death, he was noted for being the youngest Noel Peace Prize recipient. But here are 10 Facts you may not have known about Martin Luther King that may raise your eye brows.
1) His Legal Name at birth was Michael King- In 1934 during a trip to n**i Germany to attend the ‘Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress,’ Martin Luther King’s father changed both of their names to Martin Luther in honor of the great German reformer.
2) He was a radical - In the final years of his life, Martin Luther King’s main focus was advocating against poverty and the Vietnam War. In fact, he lost many conservative friends when he gave a speech entitled, “Beyond Vietnam.” Before his death in 1968, King was planning a national occupation movement called ‘The Poor People’s Campaign’ to fight poverty (so, he would probably be doing a poverty tour right now and being vilified for it).
3) He was once skeptical of Christianity- When he was thirteen years old, Martin Luther King didn’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and doubted other teachings in the bible. He later concluded though that the Bible had, “profound truths which one cannot escape.”
4) Dr. King didn’t graduate from High School- Martin Luther King was skipped in the ninth and twelfth grades and entered Morehouse College at the age of fifteen without graduating high school . He was twenty-six years old when he received his Ph.D. and further, he was awarded fifty honorary degrees from various colleges and universities.
5) He was a plagiarizer- Martin Luther King’s doctorate dissertation, “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman,” was determined to have been plagiarized. In 1991 when it came to light, Boston University concluded that he had acted “improperly,” and the committee recommended that his degree not be revoked.
6) Martin Luther King supported Gay Rights- Well sort of- Martin Luther King’s main adviser and mentor was an openly gay man by the name of Bayard Rustin. Many leaders, both Black and White, pressured King to sever ties with Rustin due to Rustin being homosexual and having connections to the Communists party. Coretta Scott King once said publicly that she believed her husband would have supported gay rights had he lived.
7) He believed in Reparations for Whites- In an interview conducted for Playboy, King stated that Blacks and disadvantaged Americans, regardless of race
, should be compensated for historical wrongs. He proposed that the government give $50 billion dollars to all disadvantaged groups to help close the economic gap between Blacks and whites and the rich and poor.
8) A Black woman tried to assassinate him- On September 20, 1958, Martin Luther King was at Blumstein’s department store in Harlem signing copies of his book ‘Stride Towards Freedom’ when a black woman stabbed him in the chest with a letter opener. He was rushed to the hospital where emergency surgery was performed. It was later determined that the woman, Izola Curry, was mentally disturbed. She believed that King was conspiring against her with communists.
9) Martin Luther King was kicked out of jail- In July 1962, King was arrested after returning to Albany Georgia, where the year prior he had led a peaceful demonstration. King stated that his actions “dishonored and violated the city,” and as a result he was sentenced to either 45-days in jail or a $178 fine. He chose jail but 3 days into his sentence, Police Chief Laurie Pritchett had arranged for “someone” to pay for King’s fine and ordered that he be released from jail.
10) He was 60 years old when he died- Although King was 39 years old when he actually died, an autopsy revealed that he had the heart of a 60 year old man, which can be attributed to the great amount of stress he was under for fighting civil rights for over 13 years.