"The ultimate tragedy is not the brutality of the bad people but the silence of the good people."
A fine specimen of the thinking process of a man, the quotes of Martin Luther King Jr. that truly brings out the mettle of the man who altered the destiny of African-Americans. But who was this man, besides being a public figure? What was he before becoming the champion of the Civil Rights Movement?
One of the most interesting facts is that both Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr. were originally called by the name of 'Michael King'. The occasion that prompted King Sr. to rechristen both himself and his son to 'Martin Luther' came 5 years after King Jr.'s birth, when the family went to vacation in Germany.
King Sr. was greatly influenced by the 16th Century German Protestant reformation leader, who protested against the reign of licentiousness that the Roman Catholic Church did nothing to stop and set up the wing of Christianity called 'Lutheranism'.
King was extremely close to his grandmother, Jennie Celeste Williams, who passed away when he was only 12 years of age, in 1941. It had left King deeply shattered. A very touching account of this sad event remains illustrated in King's autobiography, where he calls this one of the moments that profoundly moved him.
Before joining college, King Jr. had worked at a tobacco firm in a bid to supplement his meager family earnings for an entire summer at Simsbury in Connecticut.
King Jr. had gotten the telephone number of his future wife Coretta from a common friend, Mary Powell, in a bid to meet what he explained as 'nice, attractive young ladies'. Coretta was a singer before marriage, and King took her out for their first date in his green colored 'Chevy'.
The doctoral thesis King Jr. had submitted in the year 1955 supposedly had parts which were borrowed from works of other writers (read plagiarized). This revelation came from an inquiry unit that had been set up in the '80s to research about the authenticity of King's work, that had made him a Doctor of Divinity.
11 years prior to his assassination, a woman called Mrs. Izola Ware Curry had plunged a paper cutter into King's chest while he was busy giving out autographed copies of his book, 'Stride Toward Freedom', at a Harlem store called Blumstein's Department Store, on 20th September, 1958. The lady was later declared to be mentally deranged.
On 4th April, 1968, King Jr. was shot, sharp at 6.01 in the evening, while he stood in the balcony of room number 306 of the Lorraine Motel. This suite situated at the second floor was actually referred to as the 'King-Abernathy suite'.
King and his friends inhabited the suit whenever they frequented Memphis, according to his companion, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, witness to King's death. his other friend Mahalia Jackson, especially crooned 'Take My hand, Precious Lord' at his funeral, as it happened to be his favorite hymn.
Martin Luther wrote a total of 8 books during the various phases of his life.
- "Stride toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story" in 1958
- "The Measure of a Man" in 1959
- "Strength to Love" in 1963
- "Why We Can't Wait" in 1963
- "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?" in 1967
- "The Trumpet of Conscience" in 1968
- "The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr." (edited by James M. Washington) published posthumously in 1986
- "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr." (edited by Clayborne Carson) published posthumously in 1998
The facts about Martin Luther King Jr. show that he too was a man, a mortal who lived, breathed, and romanced his sweetheart like us. But what made him different was the fact that he rose to the occasion when duty beckoned, instead of slithering away. He truly believed that "A man who won't die for something is not fit to live", and led by example.