The truth about Martin Luther King-Truth! and Fiction!

The Truth About Martin Luther King, Jr.Truth! & Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

A collection of alleged facts about Martin Luther King that are critical of the Civil Rights leader.

The Truth:

Let’s take them one at a time:
His name wasn’t Martin Luther King-Confusing!
According to all accounts, the name on Martin Luther King’s birth certificate is Michael and there is no evidence that he changed it.
He didn’t pick the name Martin Luther out of the air, however.
It was the name his father used and claimed to have given to his son.
According to, Martin Luther King, Sr. said that his son’s given name was Martin Luther but that the doctor who delivered him put “Michael” on the birth certificate, something he didn’t know until much later.
Until adulthood, Martin Luther King, Jr. was known as “M.L.” or “Michael.”
Martin Luther King plagiarized in college-Truth!
The staff at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project discovered a lot of plagiarism in Martin Luther King’s writings and in a 1991 article in THE JOURNAL OF AMERICAN HISTORY said that “plagiarism was a general pattern evident in nearly all of his academic writings” including his doctoral dissertation.
Martin Luther King plagiarized his famous “I Have a Dream” speech-Disputed!
Critics have charged that King plagiarized that too by borrowing from a speech given to the Republican convention in 1952 by an African-American preacher named Archibald Carey, Jr.
Some of them say he gave Cary’s speech word-for-word.
It can probably be said that King borrowed from the idea of the speech by Carey (who was a friend of King’s), but only the last couple of paragraph’s resembled Carey’s speech and little of it is word-for-word.
Both men spun their remarks off the words of the song “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

King’s speech ended with:
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Carey’s speech ended with:
We, Negro Americans, sing with all loyal Americans: My country ’tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing.  Land where my fathers died, Land of the Pilgrims’ pride From every mountainside Let freedom ring!
That’s exactly what we mean–from every mountain side, let freedom ring.  Not only from the Green Mountains and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire; not only from the Catskills of New York; but from the Ozarks in Arkansas, from the Stone Mountain
in Georgia, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia–let it ring not only for the minorities of the United States, but for the disinherited of all the earth–may the Republican Party, under God, from every mountainside,

King was under surveillance because of his ties to communist organizations-Truth!
David Garrow, the author of “Bearing the Cross,” a book about Martin Luther King, says that King’s criticism of the Kennedy administration drew administration scrutiny.  
There was suspicion that two of his associates, including Stanley Levinson, had disassociated from the Communist party as a cover to work with and influence King.
Despite extensive surveillance, the FBI was never able to find any direct funding or other links between King and the Communist party.
King had an obsession with white prostitutes and used church funds for drunken partiesDenied!
One of King’s closest associates addressed rumors about King’s sexual activities in his 1989 book, “And the Walls Came Tumbling Down.”
He said that King did have a weakness for women and engaged in extramarital affairs.
He denied reports that he was attracted to white women and said he never knew of King to be involved with a white woman.
As a part of its surveillance activities, the FBI did document some sexual encounters involving Martin Luther King.
We’ve not found any substantiation about prostitues, sex parties or church funds being used for such.
Last updated 1/3/04