Happy MLK Day: 10 Interesting And Surprising Facts You May Not Know About Martin Luther King, Jr.

- By Bossip Staff
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Martin Luther King Jr.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

Little Known Martin Luther King. Jr. Facts

Today’s 2019 MLK Day Holiday isn’t just a day off of work to sit around in your PJs. Learn a little something, too.

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. Take a look to learn some interesting Dr. King facts.

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.

Haley: Why?

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.


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    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.



    2027 – According to Smithsonian.com all government files on MLK will be released in 2027, so the public will get to know a more detailed picture of his life when that happens. Be prepared.


    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’s done 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.

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