MLK Day is here! In remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. , we at The Root have some facts about the icon’s whirlwind of a life.
MLK and his family were Star Trek fans
MLK was a big Star Trek fan and told the late Nichelle Nichols that Star Trek was the only show his kids were allowed to watch at night. When Nichols, who played Uhura, told the minister that she planned to leave the show, he urged her not to. She decided to stay on the show and continued being one of the first Black women in a lead role on television.
He was arrested 29 times
In his pursuit of justice, the SCLC president went to jail 29 times. While he was in jail he delivered speeches and wrote material such as the famed “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”Many of his arrests were for civil disobedience and exaggerated charges.
He was only 15 when he attended Morehouse College
Martin Luther King Jr. was a gifted student skipping the 8th and 12th grades. He enrolled in HBCU Morehouse College at the age of 15. King was a Sociology major and as a student learned much about injustices, and segregation, and also sparked his interest in theology. Morehouse’s chapel was named The Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel in his honor.
He was attacked a decade before his assassination
In September 1958, MLK was stabbed in the chest with a seven-inch penknife by a woman named Izola Ware Curry while signing copies of his book Stride Toward Freedom. After stabbing him she said that she was after him for six years. He was then rushed to a Harlem hospital.
MLK and Coretta Scott King paid for the bill for Julia Roberts’ birth
Julia Roberts’ father owned a theater school in Atlanta and one day Coretta Scott King called to have her children enrolled. She wanted to find a safe place for her children to attend. Roberts’ family and the King family soon became friends. The King couple in turn paid for Julia’s hospital birth bill for helping their children.
He gave the “I Have a Dream” speech in Detroit before the March on Washington
Two months before MLK gave the world the iconic “I Have a Dream speech” at the March on Washington, he gave an early version of the speech in Detroit, Michigan. King was in Detroit for The Walk to Freedom in June 1963. The version we know now of the speech was partly improvised that day when singer Mahalia Jackson told him to tell the crowd about his dream.
He was only 39 years old when he died
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was 39 years young when he was assassinated via a gunshot wound on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He stepped out on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel to speak to members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was pronounced dead an hour later at St. Joseph’s Hospital.