Bio of the Month Martin Luther King Jr
BIOGRAPHY®: MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Primary Source Analysis | Extended Activities | References
- Civil Disobedience
- Civil Rights
- De facto
- De jure
- What were some events in Dr. King's youth which led to his decision to fight against discrimination and segregation?
- In one of his earliest speeches, Dr. King said "If freedom is good for any, it is good for all." What do you think he meant by this quote, and how did he attempt to live up to this idea throughout his life?
- Dr. King worked to achieve civil rights for African Americans in many different areas, such as voting rights. What were some of the other areas in which he and the participants in the Civil Rights Movement sought to secure equality? Which of these do you think was most important and why?
- Why do you think J. Edgar Hoover was so determined to undermine Dr. King's work for civil rights? What are your thoughts on Hoover's actions?
- How did Mahatma Gandhi influence Martin Luther King? What was his essential philosophy and how did Martin Luther King Jr. aim to embody his ideas in the United States?
- What are your thoughts about the music and images in this documentary? How do the choices of sound impact the way you interpret the messages and themes?
- What are some of the adjectives you would use to describe Dr. King's leadership style? Why do you think he was such a powerful leader?
- Which of King's accomplishments in the Civil Rights Movement do you think had the most lasting influence on American society, and why?
- Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday observed throughout the United States. How would you describe the meaning and importance of this day?
- If you had to describe the legacy of Dr. King to an elementary school student, what would you say? What do you think is the most important legacy he left behind?
- March on Washington
- Civil disobedience
- "How long? Not long."
- Separation of races, either legally or by custom
- Quote from MLK speech
- Major civil rights protest in 1963m
- The year King's birthday was declared a national holiday
- A method of achieving change by pushing the boundaries of law
- Civil rights organization which played a role in the Montgomery bus boycott
PRIMARY SOURCE ANALYSIS
by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability... We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right."
- What do you think Dr. King meant when he wrote that time can be used destructively or constructively? Why did he believe that the Civil Rights Movement was an example of using time constructively?
- How do you interpret the phrase "human progress never rolls on the wheels of inevitability"? Can you think of an example to support your answer?
- Why do you think Dr. King decided to write this letter? Why do you think it is still remembered for being an important document?
- Martin Luther King Jr. was known for his famous oratory style and gift with words. Many of his speeches have been published and are available at libraries, on the Internet and in bookstores. Research his speeches and pick a paragraph that you find interesting. In a short essay, describe what you like about this paragraph and what it teaches about Dr. King's philosophies.
- The Supreme Court determined that school segregation was illegal with the Brown v. Board of Education decision, prompting the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement to fight against segregation in schools, in transportation, and in public places such as restaurants. In small groups, investigate the efforts of Civil Rights Movement participants to eliminate racism and segregation in these different arenas. Each group should research one topic, such as city buses, lunch counters, etc. Present your findings to the class through oral presentations, PowerPoint presentations, or on a poster-board.
- In addition to Dr. King, there were many people throughout the country who contributed to the Civil Rights Movement and helped bring about change. Research another participant or leader in the Civil Rights Movement using books or the Internet. Using PowerPoint or poster-board, create a visual biography of this person. You can include relevant dates, images, quotes and publications. Share your discovery with your classmates or group.
- Dr. King's commitment to civil rights took him throughout the country. Though focused on the South, he later took his campaign to the North. Using your own research, chart the chronology of his travels. Then, get a map of the United States, pinpointing the places he went. You can also supplement this map by pinpointing the location of other important events from the post-1945 era of U.S. history and the Civil Rights Movement. You can add dates below the map or on the sides in order to keep track of when they occurred.
- One of the most powerful ways to learn more about history is to talk to those who have lived through events from the past. Students can join efforts to collect and archive the personal stories of people who lived during the civil rights era. Ask students to locate someone in their family, neighborhood, or school who lived through this era and interview them about their memories of Dr. King and this time period in U.S. history.