As a child, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was wise beyond his years, but, also sensitive and suffered from severe depression. At the age of 12, he became distraught by the death of his grandmother and attempted suicide by jumping out of a second story window. King continued to be prone to bouts of depression as he aged. His wife, Coretta, was his greatest supporter, and his dearest friends, including Ralph Abernathy, were always by his side.
King’s life was constantly in jeopardy. His home was bombed, he was attacked during nonviolent demonstrations, and he was even stabbed in the chest by a woman with a letter opener during a book signing. King knew that he and his family were “chosen” and that his activism would eventually kill him. He always put his faith in God.
Toward the end of his life, truths about his flaws were revealed and his character was questioned. The constant stress had taken its toll. After his assassination, the autopsy revealed that King’s heart had aged at twice the rate it should have.
Background re: MLK, Jr.
The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister, and the most recognized leader of the American Civil Rights Movement until his assassination on April 4, 1968. Throughout his adult life he championed non violent resistance and civil disobedience as means of protest toward Civil Rights abuses, primarily toward African American Citizens. His influence using these techniques carried over to poverty, segregated housing, and Vietnam war issues, and resulted in him being arrested multiple times. He was the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), organizing it, unsuccessfully, in a struggle against segregation in 1962 in Albany, GA. He helped organize the nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled "Beyond Vietnam". J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI's COINTELPRO from 1963 on. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which King interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.
King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971; the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington was rededicated for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.