8 Little-Known Facts About Martin Luther King Jr.

8 Interesting Facts about Martin Luther King Jr.
Image: Donald Uhrbrock/Getty Images

The Rev. Dr, Martin Luther King Jr., is one of the most revered figures over the last century. Since his assassination in 1968, his likeness and message are known all across the world. Without a question, he is still a global icon.

While there is so much that we know about his life through books and films that seek to capture the essence of who he was, there may be some details that many may not have ever known about him. Below, we shine light on some

1. He was born Michael King Jr.

On January 15, 1929, Michael King Jr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia. When he was five years old, his father, Rev. Michael King Sr. traveled to Germany in the 1930s and was inspired by Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. Upon returning to the states, he legally changed his name to Martin Luther King, Sr., and his son’s to Martin Luther King Jr.

2. He graduated from Morehouse College at 19.

A precocious student, King skipped two grades and graduated from Washington High School in Atlanta when he was 15. After passing his entrance exams, he enrolled at Morehouse College and earned a B.A. in sociology at 19.

3. He was an avid pool player.

While he’s known for being an activist, minister, theologian, and philosopher, one of his favorite pastimes was billiards. King picked up pool as a grad student at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania (now known as the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York) and played the game throughout his life.

4. He was the first Black person to be named Time Person of the Year.

After the March On Washington For Jobs and Freedom, King was named 1963’s “Man of the Year” in the January 1964 issue of Time Magazine. He became the first African American to receive this honor. This was his second appearance on the cover of Time. In 1957, he graced the cover for his leadership in the Montgomery bus boycott.

5. He was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for his non-violent struggle for civil rights for the Afro-American population.” At 35 years old, he was the youngest person ever to receive the prestigious honor at the time. He would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to advance the cause of the civil rights movement.

6. He recorded for Motown Records.

King can be counted among the iconic artists that have recorded at Motown Records. Motown released an album of the Detroit speech in August 1963, titling it The Great March To Freedom. The label agreed to a 40-cents-per-copy royalty and a $400 advance for the album with King, a generous deal for a record that could be purchased for $1.80. King insisted that his royalties go to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Motown founder Berry Gordy also made a $500 donation to the SCLC and Motown acts would perform at the organization’s fundraisers.

7. He was a Grammy Award winner.

n 1964, King won his first Grammy for We Shall Overcome (The March On Washington…August 28, 1963), which was up for Best Documentary, Spoken Word, or Drama Recording (Other Than Comedy). Posthumously, in 1971, he won for Best Spoken Word Recording for “Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam.” 

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