Interesting Facts About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Robert D. Farber- University Archives and Special Collections Department

A photo of Martin Luther King Jr. during a visit to Brandies.

Kai Matsumoto, Staff Writer

On January 17, 2022, it will be the 37th year the United States has celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Throughout his fantastic life, students are taught how MLK fought against segregation and racism within the United States.  However, there are many aspects in his life that you will not find in a history textbook.  Here are many interesting facts about MLK’s amazing life:

  • MLK Day is also celebrated in Hiroshima, Japan, and Toronto, Canada.
  • There are more than 1,000 streets named after MLK, and approximately 955 of them can be found in the U.S.
  • MLK was the first African American “Man of the Year” in TIME Magazine’s 1963 issue, with Barack Obama being the only other African American “Man of the Year” in 2008.
  • When MLK was 12 years old, he attempted suicide after his grandmother died of a heart attack. He was supposed to stay home with her, but he snuck out to go to a parade.  When he came back he learned that his grandmother had died and he wasn’t there to help her, he went upstairs and jumped out of a two-story window.
  • When he was a child, MLK and his family would travel up to Connecticut to harvest tobacco. Traveling up north was his first experience with a less segregated environment.
  • In 1958, MLK was stabbed using a letter opener by a mentally ill woman named Izola Curry.  Curry was arrested at the scene, and MLK required surgery to save his life.  He survived the attack and later publicly forgave Curry.
  • Several people know that MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech is improvised from his original script, but it would not have become what it did if it wasn’t for gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.  She was standing right behind MLK while he was on the podium.  She gave a last-minute suggestion to MLK, asking him to talk about the dream he just had the night before.
  • MLK skipped ninth and twelfth grade and entered Morehouse College in 1944 at the age of 15. He received his bachelor’s degree in sociology at 19 years of age.
  • MLK originally had a C in public speaking! By the end of his studies, however, he climbed to the top of his class, becoming valedictorian, student body president, and getting straight A’s.
  • MLK at first wanted to become a lawyer or a doctor but later became a minister after deciding the Bible consists of “many profound truths one cannot escape”.

Facts from iHeart Radio (