Martin Luther King Jr: History and Legacy

Martin Luther King Jr., arguably the 20th century’s most famous civil rights leader, was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. King’s last speech was a testament to his commitment to the labor movement, showing recognition that labor’s fight for economic justice and dignity were intertwined with the civil rights movement. Here are some teaching resources that will deepen your students’ understanding of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject:
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Power of Nonviolence

This lesson introduces students to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence and the teachings of Mohandas K. Gandhi that influenced King’s views. After considering the political impact of this philosophy, students explore its relevance to personal life. (Duration: 2 class periods)

Learning Objectives:
To examine the philosophy of nonviolence developed by Martin Luther King, Jr.
To consider how this philosophy translated into practice during the Civil Rights Movement.
To explore the relationship between King’s teachings on nonviolence and those of Mohandas K. Gandhi.
To reflect on the relevance of nonviolence to one’s personal conduct in everyday life.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Photography
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The March on Washington

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most historic moments in United States history – the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. On August 28, 1963, approximately 250,000 people participated in the march, which is considered to be one of the largest peaceful political rallies for human rights in history. Among other events, the march participants gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to hear Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Photography, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Video
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

“I Have a Dream” Speech, Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his address on his vision for the future of America regarding race equality. The speech was to emphasize the importance of this movement. 100 years before, Lincoln gave his Emancipation speech and 200 years earlier the Declaration of Independence was signed. Now it is time to end oppression in America for good.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Meaning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Are we at last one nation, with liberty and justice for all? In this ebook, we reflect on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, and assess their efforts to overcome racial discrimination and to promote racial equality and integration. Each selection includes a brief introduction by the editors with guiding questions for discussion. Includes essays, short stories, and speeches by King, Ralph Ellison, W. E. B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Malcolm X.

  • Resource Type: Books, Essays, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

A Lesson on Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech

This lesson can be used during a unit on the Civil Rights Movement or in remembrance of the March on Washington or Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday holiday. Students will be able to: Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

I Have a Dream: Celebrating the Vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.

EDSITEment feature highlighting resources, activities, and lesson plans to help teachers, students, parents, and caregivers understand the impact Dr. King had — and continues to have — upon our country and the global efforts towards peace and civil rights.

On the third Monday of January, Americans celebrate the life and achievement of one of our most respected citizens — Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was a leading force in the drive for civil rights in the United States, and he showed through words and actions that non-violent, persistent activism can achieve tremendous results by appealing to the moral conscience of Americans.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Photography, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Martin’s Big Words

In this lesson, students will experience unequal treatment first hand – some will receive a sticker based on an arbitrary characteristic, like hair color – and by discussing their reactions, they will come to understand the meaning of equality. Students will learn about the life and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King and write about what his dream for equality means in their own lives.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Letter From Birmingham City Jail (Excerpts), Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK was leading a demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama where it was forbidden to make demonstrations. This was the first time King had decided to break the law for he believed that the law was unjust. While incarcerated he wrote a letter in reply to a letter published about accusations made on him in the Birmingham Post Herald.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nonviolent Resistance

By examining King’s famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in defense of nonviolent protest, along with two significant criticisms of his direct action campaign, this lesson will help students assess various alternatives for securing civil rights for black Americans in a self-governing society. (Duration: 3 class periods)

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12