Facts about Martin Luther King Jr. you might not know - CBS46 News

Facts about Martin Luther King Jr. you might not know

Posted: Updated:
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shakes his fist during a speech in Selma, Ala., Feb. 12, 1965. King was engaged in a battle with Sheriff Jim Clark over voting rights and voter registration in Selma. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shakes his fist during a speech in Selma, Ala., Feb. 12, 1965. King was engaged in a battle with Sheriff Jim Clark over voting rights and voter registration in Selma. (AP Photo/Horace Cort)

(CNN/Meredith) – Who exactly was Martin Luther King Jr.? History remembers him as one of, if not the greatest, civil rights leader the world has ever known.

But many of us only know him as the man who delivered the iconic “I Have A Dream…” speech. But there was so much more to Martin Luther that what most people might know.

[Related: Read Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream..." speech in its entirety].

Here are a few facts about one of the most influential figures of the 20th century:

Basic Facts:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia and died on April 4, 1968. His birth name was Michael Luther King Jr., named after his father Michael "Martin" Luther King Sr., a Baptist minister. His mother was Alberta (Williams) King.
  • King Jr. married Coretta (Scott) King on June 18, 1953, and had four children: Bernice, (March 28, 1963); Dexter, (January 30, 1961); (Martin III, October 23, 1957); and Yolanda, (November 17, 1955).
  • He attended Morehouse College, where he received his B.A. in 1948. He then attended Crozer Theological Seminary, B.D., 1951; Boston University, Ph.D., 1955.

More Facts:

  • King was called Martin or M.L. from a young age.
  • He was the youngest person, at the time, to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

[Related: Lessons in resistance from MLK, the 'conservative militant']

  • He authored five books, published from 1958 through 1968. His books focused American race relations and collections of his sermons and lectures.
  • According to the King Center, Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech is 17 minutes long.

Here's A Look At Martin Luther King Jr.'s Timeline:


1948: Is ordained as a Baptist minister.


1954: Becomes minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

December 1, 1955: Seamstress and civil rights activist Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, sparking the year-long Montgomery bus boycott. Within days, the Montgomery Improvement Association is founded to coordinate the boycott. King is elected president of the organization.

[Related: Watch 'The March On Washington' on the National Archives' YouTube Channel]

January 30, 1956: King's house is bombed while he is at a meeting. His wife and daughter, home at the time, are uninjured.

1956: After the U.S. Supreme Court rules that bus segregation laws are unconstitutional, the Montgomery boycott ends. King emerges as a national civil rights leader.

1957: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is established in Atlanta, with King as president.


1960: Moves from Montgomery to Atlanta and becomes co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father.

April 1963: King is arrested for leading a march in Birmingham, Alabama. While in solitary confinement he writes an essay entitled "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

August 28, 1963: During the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, King delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The demonstration is attended by more than 250,000 people.

1963: Is named Time magazine's Man of the Year.

July 2, 1964: King stands behind President Lyndon B. Johnson as Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.

1964: Wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

1965: Helps organize civil rights protests in Selma, Alabama.

August 6, 1965: President Johnson signs the Voting Rights of 1965.

April 4, 1967: King delivers a speech against the war in Vietnam in New York City.

December 1967: The Poor People's Campaign is launched.

April 4, 1968: King is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, by James Earl Ray.


1976: The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities releases a report stating that from 1963-1968 King was the subject of extensive FBI surveillance.

1977: Is posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Jimmy Carter.


1980: The Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site opens in Atlanta. It includes his birthplace, burial crypt, the Eternal Flame and Ebenezer Baptist Church.

1983: President Ronald Reagan signs a law making King's birthday a federal holiday, to be observed annually on the third Monday in January.


1991: The National Civil Rights Museum opens at the site of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where King was assassinated.

April 23, 1998: King's assassin, James Earl Ray, dies in prison.


June 9, 2000: The Justice Department announces the conclusion to an 18-month investigation. They find that there is no reliable evidence to support a conspiracy behind King's murder.

January 30, 2006: Coretta Scott King dies at the age of 78.

June 23, 2006: An Atlanta coalition pays $32 million for a collection of King's personal papers, to be stored at Morehouse College.

November 13, 2006: The groundbreaking ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Monument in Washington, D.C. takes place. It will be the first monument on the National Mall dedicated to an African-American.

October 16, 2011: The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial is dedicated. The statue is located between the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial on the National Mall.


Information for this article was provided by CNN.