Lesson Plan

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights: Relevancy for Today

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr March on DC

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GRADE LEVEL: Elementary School, Middle School, High School

COMMON CORE STANDARDS: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, History/Social Studies

High School: From I Have a Dream to Dreamers United: 50+ Years Later, How Far Have We Come?

In commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, this curriculum for grades 3–12 provides grade-specific lessons, resources and extension activities to provide your students opportunities to examine civil rights in the United States past and present.

The lessons provide an opportunity for students to delve deeper into Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream Speech”—the 50th anniversary of the speech was celebrated on August 28, 2013. All students will explore tone, audience, use of metaphor and highlights of this important speech. Older students will discover more about the civil rights movement and specifically about the struggle for voting rights over the years, including an analysis of voter suppression laws and the Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

Students will have the opportunity to discuss and investigate additional civil rights issues currently in the news in order to consider how far we have come and how far we still need to go in order to achieve equality and full civil rights in the United States. Using the symbol of the dream in King’s speech, students will reflect on their own dreams for fairness, justice and civil rights.