In honor of MLK Day, we felt compelled to share some often overlooked but AMAZING facts about the man who played a key role in the civil rights movement and changed history as we know it.
King’s birth name was Michael, not Martin: MLK Sr. changed his name as well as his sons at the age of 5 after traveling to Germany and becoming inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther.
He entered college at the age of 15: As a gifted student, King skipped grades nine and 12 before enrolling in 1944 at Morehouse College, the alma mater of his father and maternal grandfather. By 19, he received a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
George Washington is the only other American to have had his birthday observed as a national holiday. The federal holiday was signed into law by President Regan in 1983 and was first commemorated in 1986. However, it wasn’t until the year 2000 that all 50 states officially observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
He almost didn’t become a minister. Although he was the son, grandson and great-grandson of Baptist ministers, King did not intend to follow the family vocation. Struggling with doubts about Christianity in his younger years, he first considered becoming a doctor or a lawyer.
King got a C in his seminary Public Speaking course. Despite being regarded as a proficient and captivating pubic speaker, his seminary professor thought otherwise. However, by the end of school, he had straight A’s and was his classes’ valedictorian.
King Jr.’s autopsy revealed that stress had taken a major toll on his body. Despite being just 39 at the time of his death, one of the doctors noted that he had “the heart of a 60-year-old”.
He’s the youngest male recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize to date. King received the honor in 1964 at the age of 35. After which, he donated all of the $54,123 (about $400,000 today) he received from the prize to the Civil Rights movement.