Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights activist in the 1950s and 1960s who did much to elevate the status of African Americans and who progressed the state of minority rights in the United States. Because he is such a monumentally prominent figure in American history, every child in the school system is required to learn something about him.


Martin Luther King Jr. graduated from high school at age 15, fully three years before he was expected to. He also received the title of valedictorian of the class.


Before and during his time as a civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist preacher at a small church in Montgomery, Alabama.


Martin Luther King Jr. stated several times as a civil rights activist that many of his techniques for protest were derived from his idol, Mahatma Gandhi.


During his time as a pastor and activist, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested a total of 20 times and was reportedly beaten at least four of those times.


Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and was the first African American to receive that award.


Martin Luther King Jr. wrote more than 10 books, four of which were best sellers — "Stride Toward Freedom" (1958), "Why We Can't Wait" (1963), "Where Do We Go From Here?: Chaos or Community" (1967) and "The Trumpet of Conscience" (1968).


Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a white supremacist by the name of James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, on the balcony of his room in a motel near the center of Memphis.


Martin Luther King Jr. celebrated his birthday on January 15, a day that was declared a federal holiday in 1983 and first celebrated in 1986.