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Read MLK's childhood letter about throwing snowballs and making snowmen

A classic snowman.
A classic snowman.
Phil Edwards is a senior producer for the Vox video team.

Sometimes, it's easy to forget that Martin Luther King Jr. was once just a normal kid growing up in Atlanta. But an early letter to his father shows the 11-year-old's excitement about something any child would appreciate: an epic snowstorm.

The January 1940 snowstorm saw the biggest single-day snowfall ever recorded in Atlanta history, and those 8.3 inches of snow impressed a young King. Following the heavy storm, he wrote his father a very excited letter:

We are having some snow and the last report we heard the snow was a {little} more than ten and a half inches and we are really having a fine time makeing snow men and throwing snow balls.

As surprising as it is to see King's childhood enthusiasms, he still showed promise at a strikingly young age. Just four years after he was excited about making snowmen, he won a speech contest in Dublin, Georgia (during the long bus ride, he was asked to give his seat to a white passenger).

That speech, The Negro and the Constitution, displayed hints of the rhetorical mastery he'd show later in life. The teenager's speech expressed an ageless aspiration for Americans to cast aside discrimination. He wrote:

My heart throbs anew in the hope that inspired by the example of Lincoln, imbued with the spirit of Christ, they will cast down the last barrier to perfect freedom.