Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. cared about the environment - and 3 other surprising facts about the renowned civil rights leader

Honoring Dr. King with fun and surprising facts about his life

photo courtesy of the  library of congress

photo courtesy of the library of congress

       
 

Each year, our team at Potomac Conservancy honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by hosting an annual volunteer day of service on the shores of the Potomac River.

Dr. King was a pivotal leader and champion of the civil rights movement. He fought tirelessly for equality, access, and economic freedom for communities of color across the nation that were condemned and disenfranchised due to the color of their skin.

While Dr. King is best known for his role in monumental movements like the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington, there are more surprising details about his life that you may not know - including his views on the environment.

Scroll down to discover 4 surprising facts about Dr. King.

 
 

Fact #1: Gandhi was one of Dr. King’s main influences

Gandhi Statue Martin Luther King Memorial City Park Denver. photo courtesy of tom pratt via  flickr .

Gandhi Statue Martin Luther King Memorial City Park Denver. photo courtesy of tom pratt via flickr.

 

During his studies at Crozer Theological Seminary, Dr. King was introduced to Mohandas Gandhi and, following a lecture about Gandhi and his philosophies, became invested in methods of nonviolent resistance.

King later cited that Gandhi’s teachings on love and nonviolence was “the method of social reform that (he) had been seeking,” thus creating the foundation for King’s legacy of peaceful demonstrations.   

 
 

Fact #2: Dr. King received a C in public speaking during seminary school

march on washington. photo courtesy of the  us national archives

march on washington. photo courtesy of the us national archives

 

As the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try again!

The same is true for Dr. King, who was one of the greatest orators of our time, yet received a “C” and “C+” in public speaking during the first two semesters of seminary school. While he eventually went on to receive straight A’s in his studies, public speaking didn’t always come so easy to the young civil rights leader.

 
 

Fact #3: Dr. King advocated for environmental justice

sanitation strike in memphis, tn. photo courtesy of recuerdos de pandora via  flickr .

sanitation strike in memphis, tn. photo courtesy of recuerdos de pandora via flickr.

 

While speaking at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative program, Attorney General Eric Holder praised King for paving the way for “our nation’s now-thriving environmental justice movement.”

After the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, King traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, to join black sanitation workers in protesting polluted and hazardous work conditions. Environmental justice was a growing topic of concern as people of color suffered extensively from an overburden of toxic substances in their communities, and, according to Holder, were often hired to do “the dirtiest, most dangerous work.”    

While King was assassinated in the midst of this special visit to Memphis, his early involvement in environmental justice issues helped to cultivate a movement for clean natural resources in all communities.

 
 

Fact #4: MLK Day is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service

photo courtesy of Ron cogswell via  flickr

photo courtesy of Ron cogswell via flickr

 

The legislation to make Dr. King’s birthday a federal holiday was officially passed in Congress in 1983. Nearly a decade later, Congress voted to further the impact of MLK Day by designating it as a “day on, not a day off.” Since then, the 3rd Monday of every January has served to remind the nation of a heroic leader who dedicated his life to fighting for the greater good of the community.   

With this year’s MLK Day vastly approaching, you can do your part to honor his legacy of service!

Volunteer on MLK Day of Service!
January 19 & 21, 2019

 
Capture.PNG
 

Join Potomac Conservancy at two local cleanups
along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.
Hurry! Spots fill up quickly!

 
 

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