Five Obscure Facts about Martin Luther King Jr.

It was August 1963 when Martin Luther King Jr. Gave his famous, “I Have A Dream” speech, a speech that pushed multitudes of people across the world to shed their fears, inhibitions and anxieties and dare to hope, to fight and to forsake the fetters of an unequal society. An activist, a humanitarian and an awe-inspiring leader, Dr. King continues to reign strong in the hearts of millions of people who wish to have a positive social impact in the world. Fifty years after his historic speech, we still look back to him with awe.  Sometimes it’s interesting though, to also look at the odd little facts about a great man or woman. So here’s a few snippets about the Great MLK.


A ‘C’ in Public Speaking!


Today, Martin Luther King Jr. may be remembered as a powerful orator but  did you know that he received ‘C’ grade in Public Speaking during his the first year of seminary school?  That leaves all of us a little startled! King was a quick and gifted learner, however, entering college at the age of fifteen. By the time he graduated, he  he had earned straight A’s and was chosen to be class president).

Clandestine smoker!

Young woman smoking cigarette

Another lesser known fact about Dr. King is the fact that he was quite fond of smoking. The difficulty of finding any pictures capturing him in in the act is due to his trying to hide it from his children. Another reason that he kept his habit a clandestine oneappears to be his close association with the church and the church’s rigid stance on smoking. According to a certain Rev. Kyle, on the fateful day of his assassination, King was out on his balcony for a smoke right before he was shot. Rev. Kyle also claimed to have  hurriedly removing the packet of cigarettes in King’s possession right before King was  being carried to the ambulance.

The Star Trek connection!


Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on Star Trek, was convinced by King not to quit her role after the first season. The character of Uhura was a unique representation of an intelligent, professional coloured woman on American national television, a welcome break from the usual depiction of black women as nothing more than anonymous household help. King felt that this positive portrayal of an African-American women projected into a hopeful, futuristic narrative of Star Trek, would provide a ray of hope to an otherwise dejected community. He was right, since Nichols’ portrayal of Uhura inspired the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, to pursue acting when they grew up.

Grammy award recipient!


We know MLK to be a true Renaissance man – he was a civil rights activist, a Gandhian, a Christian minister, a humanitarian, an orator, and a scholar, among other things. But when we learn that he is also a recipient of a Grammy, we have to abandon any shred of doubt that might have resided in some crevice of our minds. Martin Luther King Jr. was posthumously awarded a Grammy in the year 1971 for Best Spoken Word Album for “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam”. The speech included bold statements like, “the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins”. The speech is believed to have accelerated his death. His assassination came shortly on the heels of this historical sermon.

More than one assassination attempt!


King narrowly escaped an earlier attempt on his life ten years before he was actually assassinated. In September 1958, while signing copies of his book in Harlem, the centre of the 20th Century African-American cultural flowering known as the Harlem Renaissance, King was stabbed by a pointy knife, driven straight to his heart.

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