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Was Martin Luther King Jr. a Naturally Gifted Orator?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has gone down in history for his stirring speaking style, especially his inspiring 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. But few know that King, the son of an Atlanta preacher, received only a "C" grade in public speaking during his first year at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. However, by the time he graduated after three years at the seminary, King had turned that middling C into straight A's. He also had the honor of being named class valedictorian.

Lesser known facts about Martin Luther King Jr.:

  • King entered Crozer in the fall of 1948, not long after Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated in India. King would go on to follow Gandhi's teachings about nonviolent resistance.

  • King was actually born with the name Michael Luther King Jr. When King's father returned from a trip to Germany in 1934, he was so inspired by the life of Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther that he changed both his own name and his 5-year-old son's name.

  • King, who was considered a gifted student, entered college two years early. Educators allowed him to skip both the 9th and the 12th grades, making it possible for him to enter Morehouse College in 1944.

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