Today is a national holiday, and while many of you might be enjoying a day off from work, it’s important to remember exactly why we celebrate this day each year. In honor of the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we’ve put together a timeline of some of his achievements, as well as some lesser-known details about his personal and public life. Take some time to read his story before enjoying the rest of your holiday — it’s an inspiring one, to be sure.
**Despite the fact that he was troubled in his young life, Dr. King went on to do amazing things. He skipped grades because he was so brilliant, entering college at the tender age of 15. By 19, he had his bachelor’s degree in sociology. His father wanted him to be a minister, and after some soul-searching, King decided the same. He attended seminary school in Pennsylvania, graduating with his PhD by age 25.**
**Here’s one such example, from his profile on Biography: “On October 19, 1960, King and 75 students entered a local department store and requested lunch-counter service but were denied. When they refused to leave the counter area, King and 36 others were arrested. Realizing the incident would hurt the city’s reputation, Atlanta’s mayor negotiated a truce and charges were eventually dropped.** **But soon after, King was imprisoned for violating his probation on a traffic conviction. The news of his imprisonment entered the 1960 presidential campaign, when candidate John F. Kennedy made a phone call to Coretta Scott King. Kennedy expressed his concern for King’s harsh treatment for the traffic ticket and political pressure was quickly set in motion. King was soon released.”**
**From Biography: “Also 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, though 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, and so didn’t like pictures of himself doing it, nor did he like to smoke when they were around. According to Rev. 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.”**