Learn All About Martin Luther King Jr. and His Legacy

Remember, honor and teach your kids about this influential civil rights leader

By Melissa Hucal / Brenna Gutell January 13, 2024
Martin Luther King Jr. Day goes beyond just being a day off from school and work; it's a meaningful time to pay tribute to one of the most influential civil rights leaders in history. Martin Luther King Jr., a preacher, orator, community organizer, and father, holds the distinction of being the first African American to have a national holiday dedicated to him. Back in 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill making this a federal holiday.
Fun fact: Martin Luther King Jr. shares the honor of having his birthday recognized as a Federal Holiday with only one other person—George Washington. Another interesting point is that Cesar Chavez's birthday is not only a U.S. Federal commemorative holiday but also a State of California Holiday.
Reflecting his global impact, there are more than one thousand streets named after Martin Luther King Jr. worldwide, along with numerous schools bearing his name. Known as MLK Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated every third Monday of January, not just as a federal holiday but also as a State of California Holiday.

It's an excellent opportunity for families to delve into the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. and share valuable lessons with their children about equality, justice, and the ongoing pursuit of civil rights. Share Dr. King's legacy with your children - the influence he had, and still has today, get started with these interesting facts about Dr. King.

Interesting facts about MLK:
  • Martin Luther King Jr. was born at home on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. You can actually visit the visit the house where he was born and the church where he served as a pastor when you visit the city of Atlanta, GA. In addition, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and the King Center in Atlanta both honor the history of MLK, as he is often referred.
  • His name was Michael King Jr. at birth, named after his father who later changed both of their names to Martin Luther to honor the important leader of the German Protestant church.
  • He was the middle child of three with an older sister and younger brother - along with his parents they lived with his maternal grandparents and his aunt until he was 12. He enjoyed playing the game of Monopoly and listening to his favorite radio show, "the Green Lantern" and he often played baseball with his younger brother.
  • Interesting Fact: When MLK was about 10 years old he was outside the Atlanta movie premier of "Gone with the Wind" where he performed with the Ebenezer Baptist Church choir for a charity event - read more and see the photo.
  • MLK was smart and a great student. In fact, he skipped both the 9th and 12th grades and entered college when he was only 15 years old! He attended Morehouse College, the alma mater of his father and maternal grandfather and eventually earned a doctrine in theology from Boston University. He married Coretta Scott in 1953, they later had four children.
  • He served for many years as a pastor, during which time he worked tirelessly for the equality of all people as a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Over the years, he joined with many other civil rights activists to lead non-violent protests across the country.

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  • In August of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. helped to organize the famous March on Washington where over 250,000 people joined together to show their support of equal rights for everyone - including advocating for an end to segregation in public schools, protection from police abuse, and to get laws preventing discrimination in employment. It was here that MLK delivered his most famous speech, “I have a dream.” 
  • This famous line from the speech not only sums up his dream, but give recognition to his role as a father:  “I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
  • Martin Luther King Jr. was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was 35 when he received the prestigious award on October 14, 1964.
  • Four year later - on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. Although his life was cut short, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. continues. He remains an example for all of us to dream and to take action on those dreams.

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The following sources were used to write this article: | Kids Play and Create

This previously shared article was updated and edited by Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas

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