Your little dreamers naturally understand the power and importance of having hopes and wishes, so learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech is a tactile way to help kids understand the significance of who MLK was. Help the kids learn more about this chief spokesman for nonviolent activism, civil rights, and the end of racial segregation. Read on to get started.
1. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929. His birth name was actually Michael but was changed to Martin by his father (who also changed his name) in 1934 (after Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s).
2. He started college when he was just 15.
3. According to the King Center, he was jailed 30 times for charges such as civil disobedience.
4. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was instrumental in getting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed. This act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It made it illegal to segregate based on race in schools, the workplace and public accommodations (or facilities that serve the general public including hospitals and libraries). It may be hard for your kiddos to believe that there was once a time when children could not drink from the same drinking fountain or use the same bathroom because of the color of their skin! MLK fought to end that.
5. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in April of 1964.
6. Martin Luther King Jr. married Coretta Scott on June 18, 1953. The ceremony was performed by his father, Martin Luther King Sr. She had the vow "to obey" removed from the vows, which was almost unheard of at the time.
7. MLK and his wife had four children: Martin Luther King III, Bernice King, Yolanda King, and Dexter King.
8. One of the best ways kids can understand what he was all about is by listening to his famous "I have a dream" speech, which he made on Aug. 28, 1963. Older kids can check out this pdf of the complete text of the speech and read along. Kids of any age can listen in through this link.
9. After listening to the speech, ask your kiddos a few questions to help them grasp the magnitude. Here are a few suggestions:
What does it feel like to be excluded? Have you ever been excluded from something?
What is a slave? What does it mean to be enslaved?
What was the emancipation proclamation?
What is something you can do to make others feel more included?
Can you think of a time when you saw something wasn't right, and you spoke up?
What does the word community mean to you?
What do you love about your community?
Is there one thing you can do each day to help others?
What are big things you'd like to change in the world?
What is your big dream?
photo: wikimedia commons