NOBCO recognizes and commemorates the life and work of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and prominent leader at the forefront of the American Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King was yet another brilliant, black mind that forever changed American History. Today we reflect on his principles of racial equality, nonviolent social change and his fearless determination to spread the message of equality and respect for all Americans. We encourage all of our supporters to use your time today to play your own part in our history. Educate someone that may not have the facts about Dr. King's contributions, read a book or article about his life or take a look at our list of lesser known facts about Dr. Martin Luther King below.
20 Facts You May or May Not Know About Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.
King’s father was a Baptist minister and his mother was a school teacher.
He is best known in the USA and internationally for his part in advancing the civil rights movement by using nonviolent methods of protest.
King was a highly educated man with bachelor's degrees in sociology and divinity, and a Ph.D. in systematic theology.
While studying for his Ph.D. at Boston University, MLK was mentored by theologian and civil rights leader, Howard Thurman, who was a big influence on him.
He met and married Coretta Scott, a music student and aspiring singer, in 1953. The couple had four children, Yolanda, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott, and Bernice.
In 1955 Martin Luther King Jr. led a boycott of buses in Montgomery, Alabama after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. The Montgomery Bus Boycott went on for 381 days but eventually led to the abolishment of racial segregation on public buses in Alabama.
In May of 1957, King gave his famous "Give Us the Ballot" speech during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington.
King’s most famous speech is his "I Have a Dream" speech. He performed it in 1963 in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to a crowd of over a quarter of a million people.
Dr. King reimagined a different future for America referring to our country as the "Beloved Community."
King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his role in opposing racial segregation and discrimination through nonviolent protest and other means.
On March 7, 1965, King was involved with organizing a march from Selma to Montgomery to protest the murder of a protester who was killed by an Alabama state trooper during the previous month. The march was blocked by state troopers and police officers who brutally beat the participants. The event, which came to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” was broadcast on news stations across the USA, and it fostered sympathy for the civil rights movement.
His last great speech is known as the "I've Been to the Mountain Top" address, and it was delivered the day before he died on April 3, 1968.
On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. He was shot by James Earl Ray.
King’s favorite song was "Take My hand, Precious Lord." The song was sung at his funeral by his friend, Mahalia Jackson.
Towards the end of his life, King had switched his focus from civil rights to campaigns to end poverty and stop the Vietnam War. Many of his liberal allies felt alienated by his stance on the war.
The Lorraine Motel, where he was killed, is now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.
After his death, King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
In 1983 a new U.S. federal holiday dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. The holiday was first observed three years later in 1986. At first, some states were reluctant to adopt the new holiday, but since the year 2000, all 50 states have celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Many Americans observe MLK Day as a day of service to their communities. Visit MLKDay.gov to find various service projects nationwide.