MLK quiz: His unorthodox education

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had an unusual education. Test yourself on how much you know about it, and then read the answers, which include information that may surprise you about him. (This quiz is a version of one I ran on MLK Day in January.)


1) King was kicked out of school at the age of 5. Why?

a) He couldn’t sit still

b) He couldn’t yet read letters

c) He was too young

2) King skipped two grades. Which were they?

a) 2nd and 9th

b) 2nd and 10th

c) 9th and 12th

3) At Morehouse College, King was:

a) At the top of his class

b) A solid ‘B’ student

c) Called an underachiever by his professors

4) King eventually earned two bachelors degrees and a doctorate in divinity studies. In what subjects did he earn his two bachelors degrees?

a) psychology and divinity studies

b) American history and African American studies

c) philosophy and psychology

d) sociology and divinity studies

5) At Morehouse, King was exposed to a work that greatly influenced his philosophy and influenced his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” What was it?

6) Where did King earn his doctorate?

a) Morehouse

b) Harvard

c) Boston University

d) Boston College

7) What was the title of King’s doctoral dissertation?

a) “A Comparison of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Wieman”

b) “God and Civil Disobedience in A Democratic Society”

c) “The God of Faith and the God of Philosophy”

d) “The Professional Socialization of the Negro American Protestant Clergy: A Theoretical Study”

8) Finish the following quote from King:

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... ______ plus _____-- that is the goal of true education.”

9) Finish the following quote from King:

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere _______ and conscientious ______.”

10. At what age did King start college at Morehouse?

a) 15

b) 16

c) 17

Check out the answers after the jump.


1) C. At the age of 5, King, an especially bright child, was enrolled at the Yonge Street Elementary School in Atlanta. But students had to be 6 years old to start school, and when his true age was discovered, he was told not to come back until he was of age.

2) C. King skipped 9th grade, and then did so well on his college entrance exams in the 11th grade that he also skipped senior year — having earned a high score on a college entrance exam in his junior year . In college, King was said to be an unexceptional student.

3) C.

4) D. His first bachelor’s degree, earned at Morehouse, was in sociology, and he considered going into law or medicine before becoming interested in religious studies. He then earned another bachelor’s in divinity at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pa., the first integrated school he attended, where he graduated at the top of his class and was elected president of the largely white senior class.

5) Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”

6) C. Boston University.

7) The answer is A. King was awarded his doctorate at Boston University in 1955. The second title is made up, the third is a title of a speech once given by Pope Benedict XVI and the last one is the title of a dissertation by a man named Ernest Colvin Baird in 1967-68.

8) “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically ... Intelligence plus character -- that is the goal of true education.”

9) “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

10) The answer is A. Remember that he skipped two grades. He started Morehouse at 15.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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