1. He was born Jan. 15, 1929, as Michael King Jr. His father was Michael King Sr. But in the early 1930s, after a trip to Germany, he changed his name to Martin Luther, in honor of the theologian who initiated the Protestant Reformation. His son thus became Martin Luther King Jr. His family members would continue to call him Mike or M.L. -- Text by Ernie Suggs, email@example.com
2. Martin Luther King Jr. was the second of three children by Alberta Williams King and Martin Luther King Sr., who was the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church. His oldest sister, Christine King Farris, still lives in Atlanta, where she is a professor at Spelman College. His younger brother, Alfred Daniel (A.D.), drowned in July 1969 in his Mechanicsville home.
7. King was a Trekkie? Apparently, yes. At a time when there were few blacks on television, King once bumped into Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed the iconic Uhura in Star Trek. Nichols would say later that after the show's first season, she told King that she was thinking about quitting the show to return to musical theater. Nichols wrote: "He told me that Star Trek was one of the only shows that he and his wife Coretta would allow their little children to watch. And I thanked him and I told him I was leaving the show. The smile came off his face. And he said, don't you understand for the first time, we're seen as we should be seen. You don't have a black role. You have an equal role." Nichols stayed.
8. In 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize. At the age of 35, he was the youngest person to ever win the Peace Prize. He remains the youngest man ever honored, although Malala Yousafzai was 17 when she won in 2014. He donated the $54,000 prize money -- about $400,000 today -- to the ongoing civil rights movement.
Barry Thumma / AP
11. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed into federal law the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. As early as 1968, legislation had been introduced to make King's birthday a federal holiday. The first holiday was observed on Jan. 20, 1986, but it would not be until 2000 that all 50 states would officially observe it. King is the only American citizen, who was not a president, to have a national holiday in their honor.
Ric Feld / AP
12. Across the United States, there are more than 900 places in 40 states with streets named after King. Most, 75 percent, are located in Southern states, with Georgia leading the way with 122. Most of the streets are in black neighborhoods, some of which have lagged behind their white counterparts, creating a sometimes false impression that all King streets equate to crime, poverty and violence. In Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed has vowed to revitalize Martin Luther King Jr., which will serve as a major thoroughfare when a new football stadium opens in 2017.
Gerald Herbert / AP
13. In 1963, following the likes of Charles Lindbergh, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and his spiritual mentor Mahatma Gandhi, King became the first African-American to be named Time magazine's Man of the Year. Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie was named in 1936. The only other African-American to get the honor was Barack Obama, who was named twice.
15. The "I Have a Dream" portion of his historic 1963 March on Washington speech was totally unscripted. Considered one of the most significant oratories in American history, that part came about on a whim. In preparing his speech for the, King never actually wrote the "I Have a Dream" cadence and had not planned on using it. As many preachers are known to do, he had delivered versions of "I Have a Dream" in previous speeches -- including two months earlier in a major speech in Detroit -- but perhaps felt that the soaring imagery of the passage was too much for the setting. But midway through the speech, renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who was sitting behind him, said, "Tell them about the dream, Martin." With that, King deviated from his prepared remarks and started "preaching," thus making history. At a meeting later at the White House a beaming John F. Kennedy praised King and the speech. The speech also drew the attention of the FBI, who as part of their COINTELPRO program wrote: "In the light of King's powerful demagogic speech yesterday he stands head and shoulders above all other Negro leaders put together when it comes to influencing great masses of Negroes. We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security."
Gene Herrick / AP
16. King married Coretta Scott on June 18, 1953. King met Scott during his first year at Boston University. She was a New England Conservatory of Music. Martin Luther King Sr. performed the ceremony in the yard of the Scott home in Perry County, Alabama. After the reception, the new couple spent their honeymoon night in a black funeral home in Marion, Al., because no white hotel would register them. They would have four children -- Yolanda, Martin Luther King III, Dexter and Bernice. Coretta Scott King, who carved a significant legacy in her own right, died in 2006. Yolanda King died in 2007.
18. On Dec. 1, 1955, Montgomery seamstress Rosa Parks launched the modern civil rights movement when she refused to move to the back of a city bus as was the rule of Jim Crow. Her defiance launched the Montgomery Bus Boycotts and catapulted a 26-year-old King into the national spotlight. King, who was still fresh on the Montgomery scene and relatively unknown, was named president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, making him the leader of the movement. The boycott lasted 381 days, ending in Dec. 20, 1956 after the city passed an ordinance allowing black bus passengers to sit wherever they wanted. King automatically became known as one of America's rising black leaders.
20. King was arrested more than 30 times for his civil rights activities, including a particularly rough arrest in Birmingham on April 12, 1963. In response to the ongoing protests, a group of white clergy penned a "Call to Unity," in the local paper. In it, they called King an outsider and agreed that while social injustices existed, the best way to battle racial segregation was through the courts, not in the streets. King responded with his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," which he initially started writing in the margins of the newspaper. The letter famously stated: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly… Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider."
Henry Griffin / AP
21. Aside from King, perhaps the most publicly visible black leader of the 1960s was Malcolm X, the national spokesman for the Nation of Islam. The two seemed to take different approaches toward the same goal of black equality, but scholars and historians have contended that the two grew closer in philosophy later in their lives. They met only once, on March 26, 1964. King was leaving a meeting at the U.S. Senate, when Malcolm X stepped out of the crowd to block his path. Malcolm -- who had called King a chump, among other things -- extended his hand. "Well, Malcolm, good to see you," King said, holding Malcolm X's hand. "Good to see you," Malcolm X replied. Both men smiled as photographers captured the moment. The encounter lasted less than a minute and the two never saw each other again.
23. In late March of 1968, King -- against the recommendations of most of his staff -- went to Memphis to support striking sanitation workers. A riot broke out during a rally and King returned to Atlanta. Fearing that he would be associated with violence, King returned to Memphis on April 3. As a thunderstorm raged outside, he delivered his "I've Been to the Mountaintop," speech at Mason Temple. On April 4, at about 6 p.m., while he was getting ready to go to dinner, King stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel and told musician Ben Branch to play his favorite song, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty." A King biographer said those were his last words. At 6:01 p.m., a bullet fired from a flop house across the street, cut King down.
24. At the 1939 Atlanta premiere of "Gone With the Wind," King participated in the festivities as part of an all-boys choir out of Ebenezer Baptist Church. Ironically, two of the stars of the movie, Butterfly McQueen and Hattie McDaniel, who would go on to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy, were not invited.
Horace Cort / AP
25. According to his biographer Clayborne Carson, King wrote three major books during his life: "Stride toward Freedom," his first book in 1958, focused on his work in Montgomery. "Why We Can't Wait," came out in 1964, followed by "Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community?" in 1968. Between that time he also release two books made up of meditations and sermons. In his lifetime, Carson estimates that King produced or played a role in producing some 300,000 documents about his life in the form of sermons, letters, speeches and even federal surveillance. One of the largest collections of his papers is at Morehouse College and will soon be housed in the upcoming Civil and Human Rights Museum. Boston University's Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center is the home to 80,000 pages of writings, letters and notes that King donated to the school in 1964. Dozens of biographies have been written about King. Many of the FBI's surveillance records, written and audio records, concerning King are currently held in the National Archives, but are sealed from public access until 2027.