Wednesday, August 28, 2013

20 Little Known Facts about MLK & his Speech

Let's take a break from event planning for a moment and commemorate one of the most important and influential events in history: Martin Luther King, Jr's unforgettable speech during the March on Washington. Today is the 50th anniversary of that speech and sites all over the nation will be honoring the date with bells around 3:00 PM EST - the hour which the speech was delivered.
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In honor of the day, we provide you with some facts about MLK and his speech that you may not have known.
10 Little Known Facts about MLK Himself
       1. King was born Michael King, Jr., but he later changed it in honor of protestant leader Martin Luther.
       2. He skipped two high school grades and entered college at age 15! He received his bachelors degree at age 19.
       3. After college, he considered being a doctor or lawyer rather than a minister.
       4. He got a C in his public speaking class at seminary.
       5. Over the 12 years preceding his death, King gave 2,500 speeches and traveled over 6 million miles.
       6. King was jailed 29 times for acts of civil disobedience and on trumped-up charges.
       7. There are over 900 streets named after MLK.
       8. At age 35, he is the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
       9. He donated the full amount of the prize (the equivalent of about $400,000 today) to the Civil Rights movement.
     10. The only other person go to have a national holiday in their honor is George Washington.
10 Little Known Facts about the Speech
       1. Nearly 250,000 people assembled for the March on Washington.
       2. Bayard Rustin, an openly gay man at the time, organized the march in less than two months and was very 
          active in other civil rights demonstrations. He will be awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.
       3. Famous actor/singer Harry Belafonte recruited other celebrities to attend the event, including Marlon Brando,
          Charlton Heston, Sidney Poitier, and Sammy Davis, Jr.
       4. 12 hours before the speech, King was not sure what he was going to say.
       5. He used references from sources including the Bible, Shakespeare, the Declaration of Independence, as well 
          as Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Emancipation Proclamation.
       6. The most famous lines of MLK's speech - "I have a dream" - were not part of the speech and were ad libbed.
       7. In fact, King had used the same words at a speech in Detroit earlier that year and was discouraged from 
          using the theme again by his adviser.
       8. Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, in the passion of the moment, shouted to King, "Tell 'em about the dream, 
          Martin." The rest is history.
       9. Drafts of King's speech were called "Normalcy Never Again" and "A Cancelled Check." 
     10. In 1999, MLK's speech was voted as the best speech of the 20th century, as voted by a panel of 130 
          scholars. It beat out John F. Kennedy's "Ask not what you can do" speech. 

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