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

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Interesting, if all is really true.
Martin Luther King……………………………..

Most of the info is from Reportable History experts, as quoted in Newsweek and Time magazine.

Four things you didn’t know about Dr. Martin Luther King

1. His name wasn’t Martin Luther. It was Michael. It was decided Martin Luther had a more prominent ring to it, so he went by that.   He never legally changed his name. To this day, he lived and died as Michael King.

2. While working on his dissertation for his doctoral degree at Boston University, he heavily plagiarized from another author who had done research on a subject similar to King’s. As academic committee later found that over half of King’s work was plagiarized, yet would not revoke his doctrine.   King was dead by this time, and the committee ruled that revoking the title would serve no purpose. It was also discovered that King’s famous I HAVE A DREAM speech was also not his own.  He stole it from a sermon by Archibald Carey, a popular black preacher in the 1950’s

3. King was under FBI surveillance for several years (until he died) due to his ties with communist organizations throughout the country. King accepted money from the organizations to fund his movements. In return, King had to appoint communist leaders to run certain districts of his SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), who then could project their communist ideas to larger audiences. A federal judge in the 60’s ruled that the FBI files on King links to communism to remain top-secret until 2027. Senator Jesse Helms appealed to the Supreme Court in
1983 to release the files, so the correct bill in the Senate to create the Martin Luther King Federal Holiday could be abolished. He was denied.

4. One of King’s closest friends, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, wrote a book in
1989 in which he talked about King’s obsession with white prostitutes.  King would often use church donations to have drunken sex parties, where he would hire two to three white prostitutes, occasionally beating them brutally. This has also been reported by the FBI agents who monitored King. King was married with four children.

Martin Luther King Day. A day when this country will come to a screeching halt so we can have parades and memorials to honor this man, a man that most of the world views as a saint for his role in the civil rights movement. No other public holiday in the United States honors a single individual. Of all the great leaders in our Nation’s history-none of them have their own holiday. All of our great war heroes share Memorial Day. All of our great presidents share President’s Day. Yet king — a man who was a phony, a cheater, a traitor, and a sexual degenerate gets a day of his own.

I have a big problem with that.

I’m not trying to take anything away from African Americans, but I am trying to point out that
(1) the vast majority of people are sorely mistaken about Michael King and
(2) that reverse discrimination is blatantly obvious everywhere you look today.

Been watching the news lately? President Bush just got himself in some hot water when he spoke out against the University of Michigan for giving black applicants precedence over more qualified white applicants. Now Jesse Jackson, the NAACP, and other black leaders are trashing him, without a doubt planning how they can use this against his reelection campaign.

Think about that – Bush just made a stand for equal human rights, but low and behold — in this case they didn’t want to be treated as equals.

Make up your minds.  I feel like I belong to one of the more abused ethnic groups in this country today.  Can I do anything about it? Absolutely not. If I dare speak out I’ll get labeled a racist, harassed by the media. Subsequently lose my job, and never be able to show my face in public again.

But what I will do is send out this email to as many people I know in hopes that when you’re watching the evening news on Martin Luther King Day, and you see our politicians falling all over themselves to be filmed in a black church somewhere; you might stop and ask yourself “what about us?”