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Martin Luther King Jr. Facts for Kids

American preacher, activist, and humanitarian, Martin Luther King Jr. is renowned for having contributed positively to the advancement of civil rights. One of the most significant leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, was a leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

In this article, we will take about some of the interesting facts about Martin Luther Kung Jr. to make you learn more about his life and the work he did for the country.

Some basic known facts about Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Full name: Michael King Jr.
  • Born: 15 January 1929.
  • Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
  • Occupation: Minister and activist.
  • Died: 4 April 1968.

Best known for: Campaigning for the rights of African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

These are some interesting facts about Martin Luther King Jr. to help you learn more about this legend.

1. Martin Luther jr. is the only person who was not a president and had a national holiday named in his honor.

Martin Luther jr. had a national holiday named in his honor

President Ronald Reagan enacted a law creating a national holiday in King’s honor in 1983. He is the only non-president to have achieved such a distinction; George Washington is the only American to have a holiday named in his honor. The inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was observed in 1986 on the third Monday in January, just before his birthday, January 15. In addition, he is the only person who was not a president to have a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

2. He started college when he was 15 years old.

Martin Luther jr. started college at 15

King attended segregated Georgian schools and graduated from high school at 15. His father and grandparents had attended Morehouse College in Georgia, so he followed them there. King felt he was not the kind of guy to join the Baptist Church after earning his undergraduate degree in 1948. What type of profession he desired was unclear to him. He considered becoming a doctor or an attorney. He chose to join the Baptist Church rather than either of them. Booker T. Washington, an African-American educator, was honored with a name change for the high school that King attended.

3. Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1968 just a few days after King’s passing.

The Fair Housing Act, or Title VIII of the Act, outlawed discrimination in housing based on a person’s race, religion, or country of origin. King’s final years of work combating housing discrimination in the United States were honored by this statute.

Martin Luther King Jr. is honored for his persistent efforts throughout the Civil Rights Movement and his goal that everyone would be treated equally one day. A memorial to him currently exists in Washington, D.C.; the third Monday in January is observed as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an American federal holiday.

4. In 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize as the youngest recipient ever.

Martin received the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1964! It had been a long, difficult battle for civil rights; he was informed over the phone as he lay in bed, exhausted.

Also Read: Alfred Nobel Facts

5. Martin Luther was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals of non-violence.

Martin Luther was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals of non-violence

Before a court of law eventually overturned the segregation legislation, Martin Luther King and African-American civil rights activists protested for 381 days. Luther King encouraged the demonstrators to hold non-violent protests despite police violence during these demonstrations, following the model of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi.

6. Martin envisioned a civilization in which black and white people coexist peacefully.

The “I Have a Dream” speech, in which Martin Luther King encouraged America to fulfill the promises of democracy, is incredibly well-known. This speech was given in front of 2.5 million people during the infamous “March on Washington” protest in Washington, D.C. One of the most noted talks in historical times.

7. Martin Luther King participated in several protests and was imprisoned 29 times.

Only a few people are aware that King was taken into custody for his beliefs about 30 times. His alleged “crimes” varied, and he was apprehended in several southern cities. His health was impacted, and he was unable to recover subsequently.

8. King received 20 honorary degrees and Time magazine’s “Man of the Year” title.

King got 20 honorary degrees from colleges and institutions in the US and abroad during his lifetime. He was the first African American to be selected “Man of the Year” by Time magazine in 1963. The tribute featured a cover photo and a seven-page article with pictures of his most memorable career moments, like meeting President Lyndon B. Johnson and being arrested in 1963 in Alabama.

9. King was almost assassinated ten years before he actually died.

King was in Harlem on September 20, 1958, signing copies of his new book, Stride Toward Freedom, at Blumstein’s, a nearby department store. He was contacted by Izola Ware Curry, who enquired as to his identity. She poked a letter opener into his chest and said, “I’ve been seeking for you for five years,” when he answered yes. The blade, snuggled right down the side of his aorta, was inches away from his heart. Doctors reportedly told King that “just one sneeze might have perforated the aorta” and killed him after he had several hours of surgery. Later, King said in a statement that he had no ill will or resentment toward the woman.

10. Martin Luther King died of a gunshot.

Martin Luther King died of a gunshot

Unfortunately, in Tennessee, where he had delivered a speech the day before, Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968. When he was shot, he was standing on the balcony of his hotel. Despite maintaining his innocence, James Earl Ray was found guilty of his murder and imprisoned for the remainder of his life. 1998 saw James’ passing.

King received the Presidential Medal of Freedom after his passing. Congressional Gold Medals were also given to King and his wife.

11. King’s mother was also assassinated by a gunman.

Alberta Williams King was shot on June 30, 1974, by a psychotic shooter who claimed to be an adversary of Christians and to have been given “divine orders” to kill King’s father. He decided to shoot Alberta instead since she was closer to the attacker and played the organ on Sundays at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The defendant was found guilty and given the death penalty; however, because King’s family opposed the death penalty, the sentence was eventually commuted to life in prison.

12. King’s final speech predicted his fate.

King went to Memphis the night before he was killed to make a speech in support of the African American sanitation workers there. He spoke to the gathering at Mason Temple Church, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now… I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Also Read: Bill of Rights Simplified for Kids


We hope the above information helped you learn a good deal about Martin Luther King Jr. and the racism in the United States that he spent his life fighting for.

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