Facts About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s approach to using nonviolent methods was influenced by the Indian revolutionary, Mahatma Gandhi.

Dr. King's goal was more than just an end to segregation; he wanted to establish a "beloved community," a nation with equality and opportunity for all and harmony among all people.

Dr. King's original first name was Michael, the same as his father. He changed his name on his birth certificate to 'Martin' in 1957.

Dr. King was the author of the book, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.

Dr. King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.

In 1983, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed a bill making the third Monday of every January the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday.

At the age of 35, Dr. King was the youngest man and the second American to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When he was notified of his selection by the Nobel Committee, King announced that he would turn over the prize money to support the Civil Rights movement.

Dr. King began his doctoral studies in Systematic Theology at Boston University in September 1951. He also studied at Harvard University. His dissertation, A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman, was completed in 1955 and he was awarded the Ph.D. on June 5, 1955.

Dr. King skipped both the 9th and 12th grades and entered Morehouse College at the age of 15.

Dr. King was the founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He served as SCLC's president from 1957 to 1968.

Dr. King was vigilant in his pursuit for the rights to vote, use public facilities freely, equal education, fair housing, job opportunities and education for all people.

His prayer pilgrimage was the largest civil rights demonstration in America and laid the foundation for future civil rights legislation.

He was elected President of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization that was responsible of the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott from 1955 to 1956 (381 days).

His philosophy of nonviolent direct action, and his strategies for rational and non-destructive social change, galvanized the conscience of this nation and reordered its priorities. 

Dr. King's words and actions sparked the conscience of a generation.

"I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."
- MLK, Jr. Acceptance Speech, The Nobel Peace Prize, 1964

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality."
- MLK, Jr. Acceptance Speech, The Nobel Peace Prize, 1964

Last Updated: 01-16-2013
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