Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life changed the way that we look at one another. He did so with grace and clarity, which spoke to the people. This day is one that is encouraged to be of service to our communities. We don’t have much planned for this MLK Day, but I hope in the future to organize local community service events for citizens to take part in. If you are interested in participating next year, whether as a participant or offering a service project, please contact me and let me know!
In celebration of King’s life, I have found five interesting facts about him that I hope you will enjoy:
1. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. started a pillow fight in the hotel room with other civil rights leaders in the hour before he was assassinated
When I walked in the door, he [Martin Luther King Jr.] said, ‘Where have you been? You haven’t called me all day long,'” said Young, who had been working with King on civil rights issues since 1957. “I said, ‘Well, I’ve been in court.'”
“He said, ‘Well, you need to find a way to get me a message,'” said Young … “I said, ‘I was on the witness stand trying to get you the right to march and keep you out of jail.'”
Martin Luther King Jr. responded, “‘Oh, you’re getting smart with me’ and he picked up a pillow and threw it at me,” Young said. “And he was in a more playful mood than I had seen him in years, I mean, acting like a child. I threw the pillow back and then everybody else picked up pillows and started beating me up. It was like a bunch of 12-year-olds.”
2. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said he experienced more hatred in Chicago than he did in Alabama or Mississippi. King took part of the Chicago Housing Movement in August 1966, with thousands of local whites jeering, throwing bricks, and displaying Confederate and Nazi signs all over the city.
On August 5, 1966, King attempted to lead 700 marchers through Marquette Park and neighboring Gage Park to a real estate office on 63rd street. King had previously led marches into white neighborhoods elsewhere in the city and been fiercely opposed. The marchers were confronted by several thousand white counter-protestors, many of whom displayed Confederate flags and swastikas. They attacked the marchers with bricks, bottles and cherry bombs while shouting racial insults. At one point King was struck in the head with a rock. He said after the march that “I have never seen — even in Mississippi and Alabama — mobs as hostile and as hate-filled as I’ve seen here in Chicago”. The white counter-demonstrators fought with police after the marchers left. More than 40 people were arrested and more than 30 were injured over the day.
3. The FBI file on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is 17,000 pages long and records his day-to-day activities from 1958 to his assassination in 1968. Much of the files have not been released to the public, and will not until 2027.
The King-Levison File consists of “verbatim transcripts and detailed summaries of telephone conversations between King and one of his most trusted confidants, Stanley D. Levison, a New York lawyer and businessman with whom the civil rights leader spoke on an almost daily basis for more than six years.” Documents have been censored and many pages include blacked-out sections. Due to a court order any information about or from FBI wiretaps have been removed and will not be released until 2027.
4. The FBI sent Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a suicide letter, blackmailing him with secrets set to be released in 2027
When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received this letter, nearly 50 years ago, he quietly informed friends that someone wanted him to kill himself — and he thought he knew who that someone was. Despite its half-baked prose, self-conscious amateurism and other attempts at misdirection, King was certain the letter had come from the F.B.I. Its infamous director, J. Edgar Hoover, made no secret of his desire to see King discredited.
5. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was allowed to attend Morehouse college at the age of 15 due to a classroom shortage of students due to World War II. He was still required to pass the college entrance exams, which he did.
During King’s junior year in high school, Morehouse College—a respected historically black college—announced that it would accept any high school juniors who could pass its entrance exam. At that time, many students had abandoned further studies to enlist in World War II. Due to this, Morehouse was eager to fill its classrooms. At the age of 15, King passed the exam and entered Morehouse. The summer before his last year at Morehouse, in 1947, the 18-year-old King chose to enter the ministry. He had concluded that the church offered the most assuring way to answer “an inner urge to serve humanity.” King’s “inner urge” had begun developing, and he made peace with the Baptist Church, as he believed he would be a “rational” minister with sermons that were “a respectful force for ideas, even social protest.”
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