More than a dreamer: a look at Martin Luther King Jr.

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“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

Baptist Minister. Civil Rights Activist. Visionary. Peace Advocate. Leader. Legend. Martin Luther King Jr. was all of these things and much more. Through activism, he played a crucial role in ending racial discrimination and segregation in the United States and in the creation of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. He was assassinated in 1968, but continues to be one of the most influential leaders in history.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

Here are some things you might not know about Martin Luther King Jr.:

  • He was born as Michael King Jr. His father, a pastor, traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. He changed his own name as well as his son’s name.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested 29 times. He was arrested for civil disobedience as well as trumped-up charges. In 1956, he was arrested for driving five miles over the speed limit, according to History.com.
  • King survived an assassination attempt a decade before his death. He was signing copies of his book in Harlem in 1958, when a woman named Izola Ware Curry stabbed him in the chest with a letter opener.
  • At one point, he was the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, at the age of 35. Today, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest winner at the age of 17.
  • George Washington is the only other American to have his birthday observed as a national holiday. Ronald Reagan signed a bill that created a federal holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. The holiday is celebrated the third Monday in January, near his January 15th birthday.
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