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Martin Luther King, Jr.: How he changed lives

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January 20th marks the 46th anniversary of the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader and world humanitarian. Although Dr. King has been dead more years than he was alive he has left a lasting mark on the lives of every person not only across the United States but around the world. Here are some things that you might not know about Dr. King and how he has changed lives.

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Early life

  1. In 1934, Dr. King’s family discovered his name had been recorded as Michael instead of Martin on his birth certificate. His name had to be legally changed to Martin Luther King Jr.
  2. Martin was the middle of three children. Psychologists have found that middle children are charismatic, diplomatic, independent, and fair-minded and make great leaders.
  3. He entered Morehouse College at 15-years-of-age, skipping 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades.
  4. At 35-years of age Dr. Martin Luther King still is the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
  5. Dr. King was a Republican, and more conservative in his views. Most southern blacks were Republicans due to the fact that Democrats were well known for their racist ideals including slavery, secession and segregation. It is relatively recent that Democrats are supported by African Americans and the underprivileged.

Spiritual and Death:

  1. Dr. King survived another assassination attempt on September 20, 1958 in Harlem when he was stabbed by Izola Curr at a book signing in Harlem. She was found to be mentally ill.
  2. Dr. King was assassinated on the balcony of room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968 by James Earl Ray who was apprehended six days later at London’s Heathrow Airport. Ray later recanted guilt.
  3. The reason Dr. King was in Tennessee was to advocate equal pay for equal work in support of the sanitation workers in Memphis.
  4. It is believed by some that James Earl Ray was a scapegoat and there might have been a bigger plot by the U.S. government, J. Edgar Hoover, Ku Klux Klan or other hate groups to silence Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and the movement for civil rights.
  5. Dr. King predicted his own death the night before he was killed in a speech to hundreds on April 3, 1968. In his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech King talked about his own death.
  6. Dr. King is one of ten 20th century world martyrs who have a statue at Westminster Abbey in London, United Kingdom.
  7. Dr. King is the only American to be honored with a Federal holiday. It was first proposed 4 days after his assassination in 1968. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan established the third Monday of every January as a national holiday in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This legislation was passed by congress. Arizona was one of the last states to recognize the King holiday in 1992 when Superbowl XXVII decided to relocate to California. In 2000, New Hampshire was the final state to recognize Dr. King Day.

One of the most disturbing experiences and places that I have visited was standing at the window in the bathroom in Memphis, Tennessee across from the balcony where Dr. Martin Luther King was brutally killed by an assassins’ bullet. Since Dr. King’s death, change has been slow and, much more is needed to be done to bring about economic, political and employment equality for all.

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