This morning, as I enjoyed a beautiful walk on a sunny January (not the norm) here in the Pacific NW, I reflected on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the influence he has had on our country. He was passionate about all he did and believed it was our responsibility to work peacefully to better ourselves and the world around us, through advocacy and service. And, he was a great communicator. He not only had a dream, he could share it in a way that continues to inspire.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. is by far my favorite historic landmark. I took this picture on one of my favorite trips there and the only time I saw the cherry blossoms in full bloom. This picture doesn’t do the statue justice – it is huge. It is way larger than life. Behind it is a wall of his most famous quotes. The memorial is by far my favorite in DC (and there are a lot of memorials) and is a reminder of what one person can do when he takes action on a dream.
When I got home from my walk, I researched some of his life, read some of his wonderful quotes, and found a few interesting facts I didn’t know:
1. His given name was not Martin.
Dr. King was born and named Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929. But in 1934, his father traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. As a result, King Sr. changed his own name as well as that of his 5-year-old son.
2. He entered college at the age of 15.
Dr. King skipped grades nine and 12 before enrolling at Morehouse College in 1944.
3. King was jailed 29 times.
Throughout his life, Dr. King was arrested for acts of civil disobedience. Many of the arrests were for trumped-up charges, including a charge for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.
4. King’s mother was also slain by a bullet.
In June 1974, as Alberta Williams King played the organ at a Sunday service, Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols, and killed her. She died steps from where her son had preached nonviolence. Chenault received a death penalty sentence that was later changed to life imprisonment, due in part to the King family’s opposition to capital punishment.
5. George Washington is the only other American to have his birthday observed as a national holiday.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that created a federal holiday to honor King. The holiday, first commemorated in 1986, is celebrated on the third Monday in January, close to the civil rights leader’s January 15 birthday.
As I wind up the day and this post, here’s one of my favorite quotes from this great communicator:
Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach, and trainer in workplace communications. She offers several online courses to help individuals and teams communicate better. She is the author of two books on communication, and a journal, Intentional Gratitude.
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