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January 10, 2023

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Teaching with Videos

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the United States that is celebrated on the third Monday of January each year. The holiday was established in honor of Dr. King, a Baptist minister and civil rights leader who played a key role in the American civil rights movement.

King was born in 1929 in Atlanta  and grew up in a time when segregation and discrimination against African Americans were widespread in the U.S. Despite this, he excelled academically and went on to study theology at Morehouse College and Crozer Theological Seminary.

On April 16, 1963, King wrote his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” while imprisoned for participating in peaceful protest against segregation. The letter was written in response to a group of white clergymen who criticized him and the civil rights movement. This important document lays out the argument for the civil rights movement and the principles of nonviolence as powerful means for combating injustice and oppression.

His most famous moment came on Aug. 28, 1963, when he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In this speech, he outlined his vision for a future in which all people, regardless of their race, would be treated equally and with respect. The speech became a rallying cry for the civil rights movement.

Additionally, he was instrumental in helping to organize and participate in other nonviolent civil rights actions, including the Montgomery bus boycott, the Greensboro sit-ins, and the Selma-to-Montgomery marches. These actions helped to bring about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

King was assassinated in 1968, but his legacy lives on through all those who continue to fight for civil rights and work toward a future in which all people are treated with dignity, respect and equality.

Here are some short videos to help your students understand the important work done by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and those who supported the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Bayard Rustin: Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Out and Proud” Advisor

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

What impact did Bayard Rustin have on the civil rights movement?

Bayard Rustin was a pacifist. What does that mean?

What role did Bayard Rustin play in the 1963 March on Washington?

Civil Rights Movement: The Fight for Equality

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

What does the fight for civil rights look like in the U.S. in 2023?

Who are the leaders of today’s civil rights movement, and what do you think they learned from the past?

How does environmental justice align with civil rights?

When the Youth of Birmingham Changed History

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

How did the young people of the 1960s contribute to the civil rights movement and make lasting change?

How can young people make a difference in their communities today?

Why is it important for all young voters to participate in every election?

Lunch Counter Stools

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

What impact did the Greensboro sit-ins have on the civil rights movement?

Who supported the sit-ins?

What was Martin Luther King Jr.’s role in the sit-ins and other nonviolent protests?

Civil Rights Movement

The Share My Lesson team has highlighted free lesson plans, activities and classroom materials that you can use to teach your students about the Civil Rights Movement from the March on Washington to the 1965 Voting Rights Act to the Gay Liberation Movement.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Share My Lesson’s updated collection features curated lesson plans, resources and activities to help your prek-12 students explore Dr. King's commitment to the labor movement and the fight for justice and dignity.

Untold History

Untold History explores stories, people and artifacts that students won’t learn about in an ordinary text book. Perhaps now more than ever, our history is a vital and very present part of the world around us.

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