In 1968, civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, then 39, was shot and killed on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. That’s 50 years ago today.
As the world remembers him, we look at his early life and some of the things that you might not have known about MLK.
This week—50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed—@BarackObama and @RepJohnLewis sat down with a group of young men for an @MBK_Alliance roundtable to talk about Dr. King's legacy and the courage it takes to stand up for what you believe in: https://t.co/Hdfsf3iuOs pic.twitter.com/Y0b0RpJ36D
— The Obama Foundation (@ObamaFoundation) April 4, 2018
Born on January 15, 1929, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 through 1968.
He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights by using the tactics of nonviolence and civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs and inspired by the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.
— DistrictofCalamity (@CalamityDC) April 4, 2018
The following year, he and the SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War.
He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled "Beyond Vietnam". J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI's COINTELPRO from 1963 on. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital liaisons and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.
In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People's Campaign, when he was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee; riots followed in many U.S. cities.
10 things that you might not know about MLK
1-He skipped two grades and left for college before formally graduating high school.
2-Stabbed by a mentally ill woman while he was at a book signing in 1958.
3-Youngest male to win Nobel Peace Prize
4-Although he is most famously remembered for his work towards racial equality, he also gave several speeches condemning the Vietnam War shortly before his death.
5-As a result of helping organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott that lasted 385 days, King was not only arrested but his house was also bombed.
Black. Hero. Trailblazer. Visionary. Thank you for your sacrifices. Without you, who knows how society would have been shaped. We still have a long way to go but your efforts were revolutionary! #MLK50 pic.twitter.com/lSExB205YI
— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) April 4, 2018
6-Not the only member of his family to be assassinated: Tragically his mother, Alberta Williams, was also killed in her Atlanta church in 1974.
7-Upon autopsy following his assassination, it was found that although King was only 39, he had the heart of a 60 year old. Doctors concluded that this was probably due to the heavy stress he faced in his life.
-8Influenced by a trip to India: King studied Gandhi’s ideas of peaceful resistance extensively and even ended up taking a trip to India at one point. Upon returning he was convinced that non-violent resistance was the way to go.
-9Name is on more than 700 streets:In almost every major city in American, and dozens of small ones, there is bound to be a street bearing his name. This is in addition, of course, to all of the buildings, schools, etc. that are also named after him.
10-Only US citizen who never held office to have a holiday named after him