Martin Luther King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39 leaving behind wife Coretta Scott King and four kids.
On March 10, 1969, James Earl Ray entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in the Tennessee state penitentiary. He died in prison on April 23, 1998, at the age of 70.
Today is the 26th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968.
Ronald Reagan signed the federal holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed in 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
In remembering King we found a few facts we forgot and maybe you too.
1) Did you know Martin Luther King was not BORN “Martin Luther King?”
Both he and his dad were born with the name Michael. MLK Sr. changed his name to “Martin Luther King” after a trip to Germany. He was inspired by Lutheran Martin Luther. His son would soon follow suit.
2) Back in 1964 at the age of 35, he became the youngest person to ever receive a Nobel Peace Prize as he promoted the principle of non-violence.
3) He was only 34 years old when he gave his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
4) He was the 1st African-American to be named Time’s Man of the Year back In 1964.
5) He was in Playboy magazine. NOOO not like that LOL! They interviewed King in 1965 about missteps in the battle for civil rights and how important the song “We Shall Overcome” was for the civil rights movement.