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Five Facts About Martin Luther King Jr.

Jan. 20 marks the holiday celebrating the civil rights leader's birthday.

Monday we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. In honor of this holiday, we thought we’d bring you five facts about Martin Luther King Jr.

  1. You Need to Know About His Birthday: His birthday was actually Jan. 15. He was born in 1929 in Atlanta.
  2. You Need to Know About His Name Change: King and his father were both originally named Michael King. However, after a visit to Germany in 1934, King’s father changed both their names to Martin in honor of the Protestant leader Martin Luther.
  3. You Need to Know About His First 15 Minutes of Fame: King sang in the choir at the Atlanta movie premiere of Gone With the Wind in 1939.
  4. You Need to Know About His Brain Power: King skipped ninth and 12th grade math in high school. He started at Morehead College at age 15, without having formally graduated from high school.
  5. You Need to Know About His Holiday: President Ronald Reagan signed Martin Luther King Day as a holiday into law in 1983, and it was observed for the first time on Jan. 20, 1986. The first time all 50 states celebrated the holiday was in 2000.
Robert Yates January 20, 2014 at 11:23 AM
An excerpt from his letter authored in a jailhouse in Birmingham: "...You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is rather strange and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask, "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "An unjust law is no law at all." Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality ... There are some instances when a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I was arrested Friday on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong with an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade, but when the ordinance is used to preserve segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and peaceful protest, then it becomes unjust. Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was seen sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks before submitting to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws ..." MLKJ

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