3 Great Anecdotes about Martin Luther King

In his speech at the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony, Gunnar Jahn, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, said:

“Today we pay tribute to Martin Luther King, the man who has never abandoned his faith in the unarmed struggle he is waging, who has suffered for his faith, who has been imprisoned on many occasions, whose home has been subject to bomb attacks, whose life and the lives of his family have been threatened, and who nevertheless has never faltered.”

 

01. His name was originally Michael.

martin luther king anecdotes name

His name was originally Michael, not Martin.
His father was also Michael King, hence why Martin Luther King Jr. was originally named Michael King Jr. However, after a trip to Germany in 1931, Michael King Sr. changed his own name in homage to historic German theologian Martin Luther.
Michael King Jr. was two years old at the time and King Sr. made the decision to change his son’s name to Martin Luther as well.





 

02. He was a secret smoker.

martin luther king anecdotes secret smoker

Also on the day King was killed, he was out on the balcony for a smoke. While you’ll be hard pressed to find a picture of him smoking, he smoked regularly, though had a habit of hiding this partially due to the stigma, particularly within the church at the time, but also because he didn’t want his kids to take up smoking, and so didn’t like pictures of himself doing it, nor did he like to smoke when they were around.
According to Rev. Kyles, after King was shot but before he was taken away by the ambulance, Kyles removed the package of cigarettes from King’s pocket and got rid of the cigarette butt, partially to attempt to hide the fact that King was smoking at the time he was shot.




03. He indirectly inspired a black astronaut.

martin luther king anecdots astronaut

King convinced “Uhura” on Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols (who incidentally later went on to work for NASA), to continue on with the role after the first season. Nichols stated he told her not to leave the show because she was not only playing a black person as a main character on TV, but she was also playing a character that didn’t conform to the stereotypical black person of the day, usually portrayed. Rather, Uhura was portrayed as an intelligent member of the crew and an equal to those around her.

This seems to have had the intended effect.

Astronaut Ronald McNair, the second black person in space, was inspired to become an astronaut because of the character of Uhura.

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