By John Focht
Martin Luther King Day is a day that is freely and openly celebrated in today’s world. For many, it’s a welcomed three-day weekend to get away for skiing or sneak away to an island resort. For others, it’s a time to recharge the batteries; after all it’s been three weeks since the Christmas break.
With the three day weekend, it’s important not to forget the slain leaders message of equality for all men and women. It’s important not to forget the man either. While kicking back on your holiday weekend, here are some things you may not have known about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King’s actual birthday
While Martin Luther King Day is celebrated annually on the third Monday of January, his actual birthday is January 15, 1929. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King.
Who was Michael King?
Martin Luther King Jr. was actually named Michael King at his birth, according to the NobelPrize.org website. King changed his name from Michael to Martin, according to PBS . Dr. King changed his name Martin Luther King, Jr. after his father who was also a preacher.
Martin Luther King the teenage college student
While most teenagers spend their teenage years playing sports, hanging out with friends after school, and trying to figure out what college they will party at the next four years, Martin Luther King spent his teenage years in college.
Dr. King entered Morehouse College in 1944 at the age of 15 after skipping grades nine through 12, according to History . King graduated with a degree in Sociology.
MLK the Preacher and the Man
Martin Luther King, Jr. became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama in 1954. He won Time magazine Man of the Year in 1963 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, according the NobelPrize.org .
MLK Day as an official Federal Holiday
By 1968, just three years after King’s assassination, legislation was introduced to make Martin Luther King Day a federal holiday. Over the years, there were many apprehensions in passing the legislation, until November 2, 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law, according to Time . The bill for the federal holiday was signed nearly fifteen-and-a-half years after the assassination of the great civil rights leader.
When did it become an observed National Holiday?
Early support for Martin Luther King Day was not fully embraced across the country. Despite the bill being signed in 1983, Martin Luther King Day did not become a national holiday until 1986, according to Time.