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8 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Although King is one of U.S. history's most widely chronicled individuals, there are aspects of his life that are less well-known.

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Though he was a prolific writer and public speaker, King viewed his own financial sacrifice as a vow of relative poverty. In keeping with this ethos, King's funeral procession featured not Cadillacs or Lincoln limousines, but a humble casket drawn by a mule carriage representative of his final mission, the Poor People's Campaign. It was activists such as Harry Belafonte who raised money to ensure that the King children were supported through childhood and educated. The absence of a will has led to many court battles over the use and intellectual property of the leader's written speeches, his image, recordings, and his literary works. Some related disputes have engendered rifts among King's then-four surviving children (Yolanda died in 2008), and other close relatives. A will would have provided some direction in this regard.

Bijan C. Bayne is a cultural critic, and author of the upcoming book, Elgin Baylor: The First Superstar.