Today I spent some time reading about Martin Luther King Jr and learned some new things about him that I didn't know before. Here are some of those things which I found most interesting:
King's legal name at birth was Michael King, and his father was also born Michael King, but the elder King changed his and his son's names following a 1934 trip to Germany in honor of the German reformer Martin Luther.
King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind.
King said that his father regularly whipped him until he was fifteen.
King suffered from depression throughout much of his life. At the age of 12, shortly after his maternal grandmother died, King blamed himself and jumped out of a second-story window, but survived.
King became romantically involved with the white daughter of a German immigrant. King planned to marry her, but friends advised against it, saying that an interracial marriage would provoke animosity from both blacks and whites, potentially damaging his chances of ever pastoring a church in the South. King tearfully told a friend that he could not endure his mother's pain over the marriage and broke the relationship off six months later. He continued to have lingering feelings toward the woman he left; one friend was quoted as saying, "He never recovered."
On January 30, 1956, King's house was bombed with his wife and children inside. Martin immediately returned to their home, and upon finding Coretta and his daughter unharmed, went outside. He was confronted by an angry crowd of his supporters, who had brought guns. He was able to turn them away with an impromptu speech.
King narrowly escaped death when Izola Curry, a mentally ill black woman who believed he was conspiring against her with communists, stabbed him in the chest with a letter opener.
The FBI, under written directive from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, began tapping King's telephone in the fall of 1963. J. Edgar Hoover feared Communists were trying to infiltrate the Civil Rights movement, but when no such evidence emerged, the bureau used the incidental details caught on tape over the next five years in attempts to force King out of the preeminent leadership position.
King was arrested 29 times.
A quote I've never heard before and love "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice"
It is mindblowing to me that this was happening in the 1960s, just over 50 years ago. Amazing how much social progress has been made in that time. However, there is still a ways to go. I believe that today the largest thing oppressing people based on race in the United States is our justice system.
For some statistics on how imbalanced our justice system is, read What It’s Like to Be Black in the Criminal Justice System. And to do something about it, and help all of those entrapped by our justice system and it's inability to rehabilitate, support Defy Ventures. Defy Ventures is an entrepreneurship, employment, and character development training program for currently and formerly incarcerated men, women, and youth. Empowering those who were once in prison get by, and even thrive, on the outside.
To better understand the connection between our justice system and racial equality, consider this. Approximately 1 in 110 white children, one in 15 black children, and one in 41 Hispanic children have a parent who is incarcerated. Black children are seven and a half times more likely than white children to have a parent in prison. Hispanic children are more than two and a half times more likely than white children to have a parent in prison. [source] And according to a study conducted by Central Connecticut State University, children of those incarcerated are about three times as likely as other children to be justice-involved. [source]
Defy Ventures helps by removing people from the justice system permanently. The recidivism rate for those that go through their program is less than 3%. Compare that to the normal recidivism rate of close to 76% and it's obvious how big their impact is. [source] Here is an overview video of Defy:
Building on the amazing work of those including MLK, I believe there is a much brighter and more equal future ahead. "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Thank you, Dr. King for your dream.