By- Erika Semprun

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day just around the corner, what better time to learn about one of the most iconic figures of American history? Today, Vista Higher Learning is sharing five facts about one of the most important men behind the Civil Rights Movement.

#1- His name was originally Michael

When King was first born, his parents named him Michael, like his father. However, after his father’s trip to Germany, during which he learned about the great Protestant leader Martin Luther, King’s father changed both his and his son’s names to that of one of his biggest inspirations.


#2- He began his college education at the age of 15

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Kings. #MLK #CorettaScottKing

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King was a bright young man, and that was quite clear to everyone around him. After skipping two whole years of high school, King enrolled at Morehouse College, a private institution located in Atlanta, Georgia. Notable alumni from the college include actors Spike Lee and Samuel Jackson, among many others.


#3- He was detained on more than one occasion

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“Respectability doesn’t prevent racism. My father was arrested for protesting racial injustice, while wearing a suit. A black man was killed by police while holding a cell phone. Another, a metal pipe. Don’t say “He wouldn’t have been shot if he was wearing this” or “He should have spoken to the officer more respectfully.” These are lives. Human beings. Do #BlackLivesMatter? Racism says “No.” I encourage being respectful. And operating on what my father called “the high plane of dignity and discipline.” But the notion that I have to be what white supremacy deems “respectable” or I can’t be treated fairly and justly or even live? That’s evil, perverse thinking. Also, please know, me being RESPECTFUL is about my standard for engaging others. RESPECTABILITY is about me having to meet someone else’s standards in order for them to respect me. And Blackness will never meet White Supremacy’s standards for being respected.” ~Bernice A. King, #MLK #MLK50Forward

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While most people are familiar with the fact that King spent some time in prison, not many know that he was actually arrested twenty-nine times. The civil rights leader spent time behind bars for charges such as civil disobedience and loitering but was also taken into custody for driving over the speed limit and several other violations.


#4- Some say he improvised parts of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech

 

King worked on this renowned piece with several people, several of whom have stated that at the moment King walked onto the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the speech had not yet been finalized, and so he improvised some parts of it.

#5- In the name of the movement, he spent most of his time away from home

As one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, King spent a lot of time away from his family. In all, the preacher traveled more than five million miles. During those trips, he made more than 2,500 speeches on inequality, discrimination, segregation, and similar topics.   

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