Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prolific figure in American history. King is readily known as an activist and extremely visible spokesperson for the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. King was a writer, minister and humanitarian who made a great impact in his tragically short life. While people know much about King, these few facts may come as a surprise.
• King’s first name was originally Michael. It was changed to Martin after his father traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. King Sr. changed his own name after this trip as well.
• King did not originally plan on becoming a minister. However, Benjamin E. Mays, the president of Morehouse College, which King attended, convinced him otherwise.
• At the time he earned the honor, King was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which he earned in 1964. Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel laureate ever in 2014.
• There are more than 730 streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr. in the United States.
• King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not his first at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The great orator first appeared there in 1957 to speak about voting rights.
• It is believed that King’s last speech foretold his death. In front of an audience at Mason Temple Church the night before he was assassinated, King said, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now … And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”