The United States celebrates the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a holiday every third Monday in January.
Experts say that their fight against poverty and inequality remains as relevant today as it was during the civil rights movement of the United States decades ago.
Even today there are many facts about one of the most important men of the 20th century that are not as well known as that at birth – on January 15, 1929 – he received the name of his father, Michael King.
But six years later, King’s father visited Germany, where He learned about the life of Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation.He later told himself that he was so inspired that he returned home and officially changed his name and that of his eldest son to Martin Luther King.
King was just 39 years old when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. He had been tried before. And then they would murder his mother.
He spent less than 13 years campaigning for civil rights and racial equality, in which he was arrested 30 times, largely for misdemeanors and also for leading protests.
But according to the King Center, in that short period of time he was able to make more progress toward racial equality in the United States than in the previous 350 years.
After being arrested in October 1960 after a sit-in at an Atlanta department store, he was held in the Georgia State Prison.
From there he wrote to his wife, Coretta, saying he hoped that “the excessive suffering that is now coming to our family will go some way to making Atlanta a better city, Georgia a better state, and America a better country.”
These are some facts about his life and his struggle that you may not have known.
1. The “I have a dream” speech was improvised
It was 1963 and the African-American leader was giving a speech when gospel singer Mahalia Jackson yelled, “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin!”
That led King to take up a sermon he had delivered earlierwhere he described an American Dream that was equal and accessible to all citizens.
“I have a dream that my four young children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by their character. Today I have a dream,” King said.
The iconic moment would later become known as the “speech.”I have a dream” (I have a dream).
Their dream of equality is quintessentially American, said Lerone Martin, director of Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Institute for Research and Education.
“For all the belittling he endured, King did a wonderful job of constantly trying to show how his efforts were in line with American ideals.”
2. He asked for help for a woman who almost killed him
In September 1958, a woman with mental problems approached King while signing copies of his latest book, Stride Toward Freedom (Toward Freedom), in New York.
The woman wanted to verify that it was indeed King and then tried to stab him with a knife.
During his hospitalization, the doctors said that he was “a sneeze away from death”because the gun was buried very close to his aorta, according to the King Institute.
After learning the woman was mentally ill, King said, “I don’t hold a grudge against her” and instead asked that she receive mental treatment.
On June 30, 1974, six years after King’s murder, a 23-year-old man shot dead his mother, alberta williams kingas she played the organ during a service at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
The attacker was found guilty and sentenced to death, but was later sentenced again to life in prison in part because of the King family’s opposition to the death penalty.
3. He was a fan of Star Trek
Throughout his life, King wrote five books and published numerous collections of his letters and sermons.
His 1964 book, called why we can‘t wait (Why We Can’t Wait), chronicles the events leading up to Birmingham, Alabama’s historic campaign to end segregation.
But his status as a social leader and thinker did not make him alien to other phenomena of his time such as science fiction and television hits.
Nichelle Nichols, the actress known for the role of the lieutenant Nyota Ohura in Star Trekwas once introduced to someone who claimed to be “her biggest fan”: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
When she informed King that she planned to leave the show, King insisted that she could not walk away from that iconic role.
“For the first time on television we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful people … who can go into space,” the leader told him, according to Nichols.
“I stood there reflecting that every word he said was the truth. In that moment, the world changed for me.”
She would continue in the role for years.
4. The King family paid for the birth of Julia Roberts
In an interview with journalist Gayle King that recently went viral, actress Julia Roberts confirmed a little-known fact about the day she was born.
“The King family paid my hospital bills”he said, adding that the Roberts and King families became close because their parents welcomed the King children to their Atlanta acting school.
The actress recalled that Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King’s wife, called her mother, Betty Lou Bredemus, to find out if the couple’s children could go to the academy because they had trouble finding them a place where they could study acting.
The journalist, who has the same last name but is not related to the civil rights defender, recalled in the interview that in the 1960s it was difficult for one to see children from black families studying with children from white families.
Today is Julia Roberts birthday! 55 years ago MLK and Coretta Scott King paid for her parents hospital bill after she was born. Can’t stop thinking about this since I read it. Here she is talking about it with @GayleKing https://t.co/5HvpNSUIYb pic.twitter.com/147x6d807W
— Zara Rahim (@ZaraRahim) October 28, 2022
Later, when Julia was born and her family couldn’t pay their hospital bills, King and Coretta “helped us out of a bind,” the actress explained.
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