By: Kathy Witt
Each year Martin Luther King Jr., Day is observed on the third Monday of January. This year, MLK Day is January 17, two days after MLK’s January 15 birthday. Here are five things* about the minister and civil rights activist you may not know:
- For the first five years of his life, Martin was actually Michael. Named after his father, the Reverend Michael King, Sr., Junior’s name was changed when Senior became inspired by the teachings of Martin Luther, reigning influencer of the 116th-century.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. was a brainiac; he skipped a grade in elementary school, enrolled in college at age 15, received two bachelor’s degrees (in sociology and in divinity) and earned a Ph.D. or Doctor of Philosophy in 1955 – seven years after becoming an ordained minister at age 19.
- Neither singer nor songwriter, Martin Luther King, Jr. nonetheless won a Grammy Award in the Best Spoken Word Recording category. The year? 1971, three years after his death in 1968. The recording? A speech entitled, “Why I am Opposed to the War in Vietnam.” King was also nominated for the award (same category) in 1963 for “We Shall Overcome” and in 1969 for “I Have A Dream.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr. authored several books, including Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (1958); Why We Can’t Wait (1963); Strength to Love (1963); Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (1967); and The Trumpet of Conscience (1968).
- Having his birthday observed as a national holiday is a distinction Martin Luther King, Jr. shares with only one other person: President George Washington. It was President Ronald Reagan who signed the bill that created a federal holiday to honor King. The bill was signed in 1983; the first national commemoration took place in 1986.
Georgetown observes MLK Day every year. Past events have included a meet-and-greet, march and program featuring speakers connected to the King family. See a video with Georgetown College’s Director of Diversity & Inclusion Robbi Barber and NAACP member Willie Gossey discussing the 2020 observation here.
Events this year begin 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17, with a Meet and Greet at the Student Cralle Center Lounge in Georgetown College followed by a March through Georgetown starting at 4pm. The Keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Carolyn Knight will lead the main program at FIrst Baptist Church in Georgetown 5pm.
Author: Kathryn Witt
Kathryn Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer, syndicated columnist and author of several books, including Secret Cincinnati, The Secret of the Belles and Atlanta Georgia: A Photographic Portrait. A member of SATW, Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Books & Illustrators, she lives in northern Kentucky.