In 1986 Ronald Reagan signed into law a new national holiday in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We will celebrate this day on Monday, January 17.
In researching his life, I came across some fascinating trivia:
NAME CHANGE - He was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1934 the church sent his pastor dad on a multinational trip to Rome, Tunisia, Egypt, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, then Berlin for the meeting of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). The trip also included visits to sites in Germany associated with the Reformation leader, Martin Luther. While there, King Sr. witnessed the rise of Nazism. In reaction, the BWA conference issued a resolution that said: “This Congress deplores and condemns as a violation of the law of God the Heavenly Father, all racial animosity, and every form of oppression or unfair discrimination toward the Jews, toward colored people, or toward subject races in any part of the world." His dad returned home in August 1934, and at that time changed his name to Martin Luther King, and his son's name to Martin Luther King Jr.
FATHER’S GUIDANCE - King witnessed his father stand up against segregation and various forms of discrimination. Once, when stopped by a police officer who referred to King Sr. as "boy," King's father responded sharply that King was a boy, but he was a man. When King's father took him into a shoe store in downtown Atlanta, the clerk told them they needed to sit in the back. King's father refused, stating "we'll either buy shoes sitting here or we won't buy any shoes at all," before taking King and leaving the store.
MUSIC AND DANCE – MLK Jr. enjoyed opera, played the piano, and sang in the church choir. He also took violin and piano lessons at the University Laboratory School. In High School MLK Jr.’s voice became a rich baritone and he excelled in the debate team. His brother commented, “He was crazy about dances, and just about the best jitterbug in town."
NORTHERN WHITES – 16-year-old MLK Jr. took a job in Simsbury, Connecticut, at the Cullman Brothers Tobacco farm. He wrote to his parents about the lack of segregation in Connecticut, relaying how he was amazed they could go to "one of the finest restaurants in Hartford" and that "Negroes and whites go to the same church.”
LOST LOVE – MLK Jr., while at Crozier Theological Seminary in Upland PA fell for the white daughter of a German immigrant who was a cook in the cafeteria. King planned to marry her, but friends advised against it, saying that an interracial marriage would provoke animosity from both blacks and whites, potentially damaging his chances of ever pastoring a church in the South. King tearfully told a friend that he could not endure his mother's pain over the marriage and broke the relationship off six months later. He continued to have lingering feelings toward the woman he left; one friend was quoted as saying, "He never recovered."
Interestingly, his maternal grandfather, also a pastor, was African Irish.
God bless you all,