Today is MLK Day!  It's a great day to reflect on his many wonderful words and his accomplishments in history.... but, it's also a good time to get to know the man behind it all.  Here are five things you might not know about Martin Luther King Jr! 

1.  He was a smoker.  On the day King was killed, he was out on the balcony for a smoke.  While you’ll be hard pressed to find a picture of him smoking, he smoked regularly. He had a habit of hiding this partially due to the stigma, particularly within the church at the time, but also because he didn’t want his kids to take up smoking.  He didn’t like pictures of himself doing it, nor did he like to smoke when his kids  were around.  According to Reverend Samuel Kyles, after King was shot but before he was taken away by the ambulance, Kyles removed the package of cigarettes from King’s pocket and got rid of the cigarette butt, partially to attempt to hide the fact that King was smoking at the time he was shot.

2.  He was a Trekkie.  When African American actress Nichelle Nichols considered leaving Star Trek after the show’s first season, King Jr. convinced her to stay. On the show, Nichols played “Uhura,” one of the first African American characters who didn’t conform to black stereotypes.

3.  He spent his wedding night in a funeral home. In 1953, honeymoon suites that permitted African Americans didn’t exist, so Martin Luther King Jr. took his new bride, Coretta Scott King, to a friend’s funeral home for the night. Talk about romantic.

4.  He dealt with depression.  At the age of 12, King’s grandmother died of a heart attack. He blamed himself for her death and even attempted suicide afterwards by jumping out of a second story window.  King wrestled with bouts of depression during his youth. Though his father was a preacher, he was originally very skeptical about Christianity and struggled with doubt.

5.  He was extremely intelligent.  He skipped both the 9th and 12th grades of high school, and was able to begin college at the age of 15 after passing the entrance exam. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree at the age of 19.

There you have it - some things about one of the most respected men of the last century... that might make him a little more human.

Celebratorily yours,


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