This Monday, January 16, the country will observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day), a federal holiday that takes place every third Monday of January. Madison students across the district have learned who Martin Luther King, Jr. was and why his leadership was so critical to the Civil Rights Movement, which was a social and political movement and campaign to abolish legalized institutional racial segregation, discrimination, and disenfranchisement throughout the United States. We all enjoy a day off school, but it’s also important to understand the inspiration for the holiday.
How much do you and your Madison student know about Dr. King and MLK Day? Below are a few interesting and little-known facts:
- If Dr. King was alive today, he’d be turning 94 years old!
- Did you know Dr. King was actually born as Michael Luther King Jr? When Dr. King was five, his father visited Germany and found inspiration in the Protestant leader Martin Luther. When he returned to the United States, he changed both his and his son’s names to Martin Luther King.
- His famous “I Have a Dream” speech almost went unheard. The sound system was sabotaged just before Dr. King went onstage. Fortunately, Attorney General Robert Kennedy was able to get the Army Corp of Engineers to resolve the issue.
- Dr. King is well known for his many inspiring speeches. However, he wasn’t always a great speaker. In fact, he got a “C” in public speaking during his first year at seminary school. By his final year, he improved to get straight-As and be named class valedictorian.
- The idea to memorialize Dr. King with a federal holiday was first mentioned by Congressman John Conyers in 1968 just four days after King’s death. However, the day wouldn’t become a reality until 1986.
- The holiday still wasn’t observed by all 50 states until 2000, a full 32 years after King’s death and 14 years after the holiday was declared by the federal government.