Today, the nation is commemorating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in Atlanta in particular, his home church will be filled with dignitaries and community leaders honoring his legacy.
Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church is hosting the annual MLK Day Commemorative Service a.k.a. “The Beloved Community Commemorative Service” which begins at 10 a.m.
Fox 5 Atlanta reports that the keynote speaker will be the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, the Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church
Additional speakers during the service will include Georgia Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Director Marcia L. Fudge, former Cobb GOP Chair Rose Wing, and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Maria Ressa. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will also be in attendance.
Also on hand will be MLK’s daughter Dr. Bernice King who’s been tweeting about her father all weekend leading up to today.
She has graciously shared rare photos and quotes from her dad, and Dr. King says she wants the world to “shift priorities” in her father’s honor.
With that, she’s encouraging everyone to course correct so we can “create the beloved community” via respect, agape love, intergrity, justice, empathy and more.
Dr. Bernice King will share more on that during today’s service.
Ahead of the MLK Day service, we’re remembering the actual history of the freedom fighter who many have revised to fit a more palatbale narrative, something Dr. Bernice King says happens often. We all know the basics about Dr. King; his civil rights work, sit-ins, and speeches. We’ve learned about him since we first learned how to read.
But there are some interesting facts about his life that the school books don’t teach you. With that, take a look below and learn some interesting and surprising facts about the only non-President to have a national holiday dedicated in his honor.
Mike Check? – Until he was five, Martin’s name was Michael on his birth certificate. Some accounts say his name was changed to Martin after a trip to Germany convinced his father to change the name to Martin Luther as inspired by Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. History.com reports that as a result, King Sr. changed his own name as well as that of his 5-year-old son.
Choir Boy – On Thursday, Thursday, December 14, 1939, MLK was part of the choir for the grand opening of Gone With The Wind. A 6-year-old King was part of the negro boys choir from his father’s Ebeneezer Baptist Church. Ironic especially considering how incredibly racist that movie is.
No High School? – Dr. King started at Morehouse at the age of 15 because he skipped 9th and 12 grade. But since he skipped, he wasn’t officially recognized as graduating high school student. He went to Morehouse in 1944 and although he was the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Baptist ministers, he was reluctant to become a Pastor.
He was convinced however by Dr. Benjamin E Mays and ordained before graduating college with a sociology degree.
Freestyle King – According to legend, the infamous “I Have A Dream” speech was mostly improvised on the spot. Forbes reports that the second-half of the speech was largely “riffed” and in the video of the speech you’ll see he rarely looks down at the page. The “I have a dream” refrain was improvised as well.
That beats any freestyle rap your favorite rapper could spit.
Reparations – Dr. King expressed the belief that African Americans should get repaid somewhat for slavery. It was a sign of a more radical King.
“At the very same time that America refused to give the Negro any land,” King argues, “through an act of Congress our government was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest, which meant it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor.” Building a full head of steam, King rolls his rhetoric down the track of just compensation for blacks by contrasting even more sharply the unequal treatment of the races in education, agriculture, and subsidies.
“But not only did they give them land,” King’s indictment speeds on, “they built land grant colleges with government money to teach them how to farm. Not only that, they provided county agents to further their expertise in farming. Not only that, they provided low interest rates in order that they could mechanize their farms.”
King links white privilege and governmental support directly to black suffering, and thus underscores the hypocrisy of whites who have been helped demanding that blacks thrive through self-help.
“Now, when we come to Washington in this campaign, we are coming to get our check.”
He didn’t fear death- In a Playboy interview with writer Alex Haley, King said he wasn’t afraid to die and knew it would help fuel the movement. “I have a job to do,” said King.
Haley: Haven’t both the White Citizens’ Council and the Ku Klux Klan been implicated in connection with plots against your life?
King: It’s difficult to trace the authorship of these death threats. I seldom go through a day without one. Some are telephoned anonymously to my office; others are sent—unsigned, of course—through the mails. Drew Pearson wrote not long ago about one group of unknown affiliation that was committed to assassinate not only me but also Chief Justice Warren and President Johnson. And not long ago, when I was about to visit in Mississippi, I received some very urgent calls from Negro leaders in Mobile, who had been told by a very reliable source that a sort of guerrilla group led by a retired major was plotting to take my life during the visit. I was strongly urged to cancel the trip, but when I thought about it, I decided that I had no alternative but to go on into Mississippi.
King: Because I have a job to do. If I were constantly worried about death, I couldn’t function. After a while, if your life is more or less constantly in peril, you come to a point where you accept the possibility philosophically. I must face the fact, as all others in positions of leadership must do, that America today is an extremely sick nation, and that something could well happen to me at any time. I feel, though, that my cause is so right, so moral, that if I should lose my life, in some way it would aid the cause.
Grammy Award-Winner – In 1971 King won a posthumous Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for “Why I Am Opposed To The War In Vietnam.”
Dude even had a Grammy?! That’s impressive.
Thanks, Reagan? – Ronald Reagan of all people signed the bill to make MLK day an official holiday back in 1983. In 1987 he also gave this speech slamming racism:
Good to know he did a smidgen of something right.
Arizona…Of Course – The last state to recognize MLK day was, of course, old racist Arizona. They only acknowledged the holiday because the NFL wouldn’t bring its Super Bowl there without the acknowledgment.
Arizona isn’t new to this racist thing.