There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
One could make the case that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the most significant American of the 20th century. He is only the third American whose birthday is commemorated as a federal holiday, a distinction not even granted Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, FDR, or John F. Kennedy. King placed himself solidly in the midst of the civil rights movement, and ultimately in the cross-hairs of a tug of war unfettered by the dignity of human rights. Forty-five years after his death, his message is as relevant today as it was then and his legacy continues to inspire those who struggle to achieve the unalienable right of equality.
We have marveled at his talent for speaking and inspiring, we have mentally wandered the streets of Montgomery with him and witnessed the great busy boycott, celebrated this African-American Nobel Peace Prize winner who donated his prize money to the Civil Rights Movement, and horrifically imagined his last steps along the balcony in Memphis. Yet there are many things that few know about this giant who so drastically changed life for us and for all people … for today, and for tomorrow.
1. Dr. King was born in Atlanta as Michael King Jr., named after his father, Michael King Sr., but the senior King changed his own name to Martin Luther King Jr. when he began to preach. The younger King was five when his named was changed as well.
2. Martin Luther King Jr. was class president and valedictorian of the 1948 graduating class of Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.
3. In 1963, he became was the first African-American to be named Time magazine’s Man of the Year.
4. At the age of 35, he became the youngest man to have been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize. He donated the prize money of over $54,000 to benefit the civil rights movement.
5. He was awarded at least 50 honorary degrees from colleges and universities.
6. There are more than 900 streets named after him, not to mention parks and monuments.
7. He was arrested 30 times.
9. In 1968, the first legislation was introduced by U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan to make King’s birthday a federal holiday. The bill was finally turned into law in November 1983 and the first official holiday was observed on the third Monday of January in 1986.
10. King is the only non-president to have a national holiday in his name, and is the only non-president with a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
11. In 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service. It is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.”
12. Between 1957 and 1968, he traveled more than 6 million miles and spoke at more than 2,500 events.
Dr. King is considered to be one of the most important figures of the 20th century, not only for African-Americans but for all those seeking freedom, justice, equality and peace. His unique approach to the philosophy of nonviolent action stands as one of the most successful alternatives to the world’s ongoing struggle against violent conflict, and against structural injustice. Today we pause to remember the man whose dream and sacrifice helped change the social landscape of life in this country, for this generation and generations to come.
J.L. Mann (Bubba) Cromer is an Attorney in Columbia, whose practice focuses on DUI Defense, Criminal Defense & Probate Administration and Estate Planning. Admitted to practice in South Carolina, California & The District of Columbia, “Bubba” has been in practice for 26 years. In addition to his Solo Practice at Cromer Law Offices, LLC, Bubba Served as the only true Independent In the S.C. Legislature from 1990-1998. For the past 16 years, he has Served as the Reading Clerk of the House.Bubba resides in Columbia, S.C and Rosman, N.C. where he built a cabin 4 years ago. Bubba lives with his Hungarian Golden Retriever Casper.