Defying stereotypes and discrimination, Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t just take part in the civil rights movement. He helped lead the way. With his “I Have a Dream” speech, King’s legacy would inspire millions and transcend decades.

With a whole week of service dedicated in his honor, Weber State University is also leading the way in continuing his legacy. To take part, here are a few fun facts that you might not know about King that could give you a little extra inspiration for the week.

Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964 during the civil rights movement. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

King’s inspiration was Ghandi. Although King is famous for improvising great speeches and coming up with powerful movements, one of his role models was Mahatma Ghandi. Witnessing first-hand the non-violent campaigns Ghandi led, King also pursued a course of action for peaceful protests to help solidify his dream.

He is the youngest male to date to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Entering college at the young age of 15, King continued his youthful legacy by winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 at the age of 35, the youngest male to date to win it. At the time, he was the youngest ever to receive the prize.

His name was Michael, not Martin. We all know him as the famous Martin Luther King Jr. However, this name was not always set in stone. When King was born, his first name was Michael King Jr. However, after a trip to Germany, King decided to pay homage to the German theologian Martin Luther by changing his name. Although only 2 years old at the time, King’s father respected his son’s decision to change his name.

He came close to death twice. King’s first encounter with death was premature. When he was only 12 years old, King thought of committing suicide after his grandmother died of a heart attack. Blaming himself for this tragedy, King tried to jump from a house window. His second encounter with death was when he was nearly assassinated at a book signing in 1958 by a woman named Izola Ware Curry who stabbed him in the chest with a letter opener. Despite all these close calls, King managed to survive and change the world until his death in 1968.

King was a major Trekkie. King was many great things, but one thing that is often overlooked is that he was a total “Star Trek” fan. Referred to as “the biggest Trekkie on the planet” by Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura on “Star Trek” in 1966, King was a huge fan. Nichols was later greeted by King who encouraged her to shatter stereotypes and continue her role as a black main character.

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