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25 Interesting Facts about Martin Luther King Jr.

25 Interesting Facts about Martin Luther King Jr.

Want to know more about the famous Martin Luther King Jr? Here are 25 Interesting facts about Martin Luther King Jr that you probably didn’t know before reading this!

He was a baptist minister and civil-rights activist

Martin Luther King Jr is perhaps most famous for his actions for the Civil Rights movements, but he was also a Baptist minister. He is considered the leader of the Civil Rights movement for African Americans in the 1950s and ’60s.

He is especially known for his powerful speeches and his organizing of peaceful protests. 

Facts about Martin Luther King Jr

Photo: Dick DeMarsico

He was one of the leaders for the March on Washington

Historians usually proclaim six big leaders in the Civil Rights movement, and these are A. Philip Randolph, Whitney M. Young Jr., Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, Roy Wilkins, and John Lewis.

They organized the March on Washingon where some 250,000 people participated and demanded full citizenship for Black people and equality in the U.S. 

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964

In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to achieving racial justice via nonviolence and his role as a leader for the Civil Rights movement, not only in the U.S but also worldwide. 

It’s a well-known fact that Martin Luther King Jr was well inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his protests in India against the British. 

He made the famous speech “I have a dream”

King was famous for his powers of speaking in public, and his ability to inspire and touch the very heart of people when speaking. His speech “I Have a Dream” is one of the most famous speeches of all times in human history, and continues to inspire others still today. 

Some of his other speeches are “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” and “Give US the Ballot”. In total, he gave around 2500 speeches in his life as a civil rights activist. 

He grew up in Atlanta, Georgia

This is also where King was born on January 15, 1929. He had an older sister named Christine King Farris, and a younger brother A.D. King. He attended a school for African Americans and was accepted to college when he was 15 years old.

He was part of the debate team in school and even became an assistant manager for the Atlanta Journal. Already at an early age he was known for his ability to speak in public. 

Martin King

There are more than 955 streets in the U.S named after him

Martin Luther King Jr has well over 1000 streets worldwide which are named after him to honor his legacy and work. In the United States alone, there are over 955 streets named after King. 

One such street can be found in Memphis, which finally got a street named after him in 2012.

He went to jail 29 times

This might not be one of the most surprising facts about Martin Luther King Jr since he was an activist going against the norms and rules set for African Americans at the time of his active years. 

He stood up for their rights as equals, and police put him to jail at least 29 times. King’s letter from a Birmingham Jail has especially become famous, and he was arrested there because he was protesting against the treatment of African Americans in Birmingham. 

MLK facts

Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in 1968

On April 4 at 6:01 pm 1968, he was shot by James Earl Ray and although he made it to the hospital he didn’t make it and was declared dead at 7:05 pm.

It took more than two months before the police caught James Earl Ray and still today it’s unclear whether he acted alone or on behalf of someone else. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison and was known for his racist views.

There is a specific day of the year in his honor

Martin Luther King Day is honoring his legacy, work, and dreams. It’s observed every year on the third Monday of January and has been a tradition since Ronald Reagan made the holiday into law in 1983.

Some states opposed the celebration and remembrance of MLK Day, and it wasn’t until the year 2000 that all 50 states recognized the holiday.

Martin Luther King Day facts

Photo: awsome design studio/Shutterstock

His favorite song was “Take My hand, Precious Lord.”

The gospel song called “Take My hand, Precious Lord.” was the favorite song of King, and it was first written by Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey. He often invited his friend Mahalia Jackson to sing at the rallies for civil rights, and this particular song was sung at his funeral.

There are many famous Martin Luther King Jr quotes

  • “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
  • “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
  • “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
  • “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

He has been honored with a memorial

You can visit the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial in Washington D.C where it’s located next to the National Mall in West Potomac Park. It was opened to the public in 2011.

MLK memorial

Photo: April Sims/Shutterstock

5 x Educational facts about Martin Luther King Jr

  • King started college when he was 15 years old
  • King earned his degree in sociology in 1948 after finishing his studies at Morehouse College.
  • He went to Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania
  • He had a bachelor’s degree in sociology and divinity as well as a Ph.D. in systematic theology
  • He studied for his Ph.D. at Boston University

5 x Martin Luther King Jr facts for kids

  • Martin Luther King Jr had four children that are named Yolanda, Martin, Dexter, and Bernice
  • “Give US the Ballot” and “I Have a Dream” are his two most famous speeches
  • He led non-violent protests to improve the rights of African Americans and other minorities
  • He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • He was born in Atlanta on January 15, 1929

General Facts about Martin Luther King Jr

  • Full Name: Michael King Jr.
  • Born: January 15, 1929
  • Died: April 4, 1968
  • Cause of death: Assassination
  • Father: Martin Luther King Sr.
  • Mother: Alberta Williams King
  • Spouse: Coretta Scott
  • Children: Yolanda, Martin, Dexter. and Bernice
  • Nationality: American
  • Occupation: Minister, activist
  • Known for: Civil rights movement and the Peace movement

What are some important facts about Martin Luther King?

  • He was one of the main leaders for the Civil Rights Movements in the 50s and 60s
  • He was African American and organized peaceful protests to improve their rights
  • He delivered the famous speech “I Have a Dream”
  • There is a designated holiday known as Martin Luther King Day
  • He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964
  • He was assassinated in 1968

How many of these Martin Luther King Jr facts did you already know? Leave a comment below!