Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Jr. Day #26

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the 1963 March on Washington

Dear George,

This is the 26th year since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was first celebrated as a federal holiday. Interestingly, Senators Jesse Helms of NC and John McCain of AZ were the most vocal initial opponents to the bill. Arizonans voted against observing the federal MLK holiday in 1990, whereupon the National Football League moved Super Bowl XXVII from Tempe to Pasadena’s Rose Bowl. In 1991 New Hampshire, the other state to not celebrate the holiday, introduced “Civil Rights Day”, then finally changed the name to “Martin Luther King Day” in 1999. Virginia instituted Lee-Jackson-King Day, and Mississippi still has a combined celebration of M. L. King Jr. and Robert E. Lee Day. South Carolina made King’s birthday an official state holiday in 2000, becoming the last state in the nation to recognize the day as a paid holiday for state employees. Prior to 2000, SC workers chose between celebrating MLK day or one of three Confederate holidays.

Here is a quiz to test ourselves on how much we know about Martin Luther King Jr. Some questions are easy, some pretty hard. So far the highest score is 8 out of 11. Will anybody top that?



QUIZ (answers at end)

1. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name at birth was:

(a) Martin Arthur King Jr.

(b) Martin Luther King Jr.

(c) Marvin King Jr.

(d) Michael King Jr.

2. In 1951 King received his B.A. degree in _____ from _____ _____.

(a) Divinity; Tuskegee University

(b) History; Fisk University

(c) Sociology; Morehouse College

(d) Theology; Howard University

3. On June 18, 1953, King married Coretta Scott, an alumnus of ______.

(a) Antioch College

(b) Howard University

(c) University of Cincinnati

(d) Yale University

4. King was a(n) _____ minister.

(a) Baptist

(b) Church of Christ

(c) Episcopal

(d) Methodist

5. King’s philosophy of nonviolence was based on the teachings of:

(a) Indira Ghandi

(b) Mahatma Ghandi

(c) Martin Luther

(d) Pandit Nehru

6. Martin Luther King Jr. gained national prominence in 1955 as a leader of:

(a) the Albany (GA) protest movement

(b) the Birmingham campaign

(c) The Montgomery Bus Boycott

(d) The Selma voter registration drive

7. King was one of the founders and the first president of the:

(a) Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

(b) National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

(c) Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

(d) Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

8. The FBI began wiretapping King’s telephone calls in 1963 under a written directive from:

(a) J. Edgar Hoover, FBI Director

(b) Lyndon Johnson, Vice-President

(c) Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General

(d) Richard Nixon, Vice-President

9. King’s close colleagues and friends included all but one of the following. Which one?

(a) Ralph Aberrnathy

(b) Malcolm X

(c) Bayard Rustin

(d) Andrew Young

10. On the day before his assassination in Memphis on April 4, 1968, which of the following speeches did Martin Luther King Jr. give?

(a) “Beyond Vietnam”

(b) “I Have a Dream”

(c) “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”

(d) “We Shall Overcome”

11. How many American towns and cities have streets named after Martin Luther King Jr.?

(a) 147

(b) 319

(c) 581

(d) 730


1. (d) Michael King Jr. When King was 5 his family visited Germany, and his father, named Michael King up to that time, changed both their names to Martin Luther King to honor the Protestant reformer.

2. (c) Sociology; Morehouse College. A precocious student, King skipped the 9th and 12th grades and entered Morehouse College without graduating high school. He graduated with his Sociology degree at age 19, then entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, PA, where he obtained a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He received his PhD in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955.

3. (a) Antioch College. Coretta Scott King was an alumnus of Antioch where her older sister Edythe had been the first African-American to enroll on a fully integrated basis in 1943. Coretta Scott King became an important leader in the civil rights movement herself, particularly after her husband’s death.

4. (a) Baptist. King’s father, Martin Luther King Sr., was the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and an early civil rights leader. King Jr. acknowledged his father’s strong influence on his decision to enter the ministry. King Jr. became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery in 1954 at age 25.

5. (b) Mahatma Ghandi. Leader of the Indian National Congress, Ghandi advocated a philosophy and strategy for social change that rejected the use of violence and advocated education, civil disobedience, and nonviolent direct action. Ghandi led the decades-long nonviolent struggle against British rule in India, eventually resulting in India’s independence in 1947.

6. (c) The Montgomery Bus Boycott. King was a leader of the Montgomery protest which was precipitated on Dec. 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white person on a Montgomery city bus. The boycott lasted over a year until the Supreme Court ruled that segregated buses were unconstitutional. King’s house was firebombed during the boycott, as were four black Baptist churches. King went to play major leadership roles in the Albany movement (1961), the Birmingham campaign (1963), the Selma protest (1964-65), and numerous other movement events.

7. (c) Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King, Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. The group was created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct nonviolent protests to accomplish civil rights reform. There were often dramatic confrontations with segregationist authorities, some of which turned violent. King led the SCLC until his death in 1968.

8. (c) Robert F. Kennedy. When J. Edgar Hoover claimed that some of King’s close advisors were communists, Attorney General Kennedy, who was strongly committed to civil rights, warned King to discontinue suspect associations and later felt compelled to issue a written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other SCLC leaders. No evidence of communist activity or influence was found.

9. (b) Malcolm X. Malcolm X rejected the goal of integration and was highly critical of the civil rights movement, calling its leaders “stooges” for the white establishment and labeling the 1963 March on Washington, led by King, “the farce on Washington.”

10. (c) “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” On the day before his assassination, King delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address. In response to a recent bomb threat, he said, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will…I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

11. (d) 730. Over 730 towns and cities in the U.S. have streets named for King. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, the American Liberties Medallion from the American Jewish Committee in 1965, the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. King was Time’s Person of the Year in 1963 and was second in Gallup’s List of Widely Admired People in the 20th century.

G-Mail Comments

-Vicki L (1-17): Hi David, How about this? Today I went to a yoga class at 'Nourish' where I attend yoga twice a week and avail myself of 55 minute massages. The class is always full, the teacher ('Victor'), both serious and whimsical. During our postures he generally plays some sort of music....Meditational/New Age, Fun-loving or Otherwise. The 'Otherwise' today consisted of Martin Luther King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech, interspersed with gospel and other related music. I wanted to have chills but instead thought Martin should stop shouting at me while I was trying to focus on my postures. Then, of course, as a young adult of the 60's, I felt a sense of guilt for the remainder of the class. At the same time, I was really happy that the days of MLK were brought alive for us all to remember.

Thanks for your contribution. Love, Vicki

-Gayle C-L (1-17): David......very cool letter except if I knew there was going to be a quiz I would have studied.... In any event I didn't do so well..My memory seems to have taken a few steps back;))))))

Hope u all are well.....Love.....G

-JML (1-17): 5 for me. Very disappointing…


  1. We're on the honor system, right? I got eight You had an unfair advantage about Mrs. King's alma mater - that's one I missed, I blamed J. Edgar Hoover (who wouldn't?) and then I just totally guessed at the last one and guessed wrong. The rest I had correct; I do well in the Trivial Pursuit history category also (terrible at movies!)

  2. P.S. Aren't there only 11 questions?