How to Include a Study of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Your School

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963.

January 15 is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and in 2024, the holiday falls on his actual birthday. Monday, January 15, 2024, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day when all 50 states recognize the contributions and positive impact Dr. King had domestically and internationally, as well as to honor the man on this federal holiday. A study of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. can easily be added to your school today or any time throughout the school year with just two resources: watching the “I Have a Dream” speech and visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

Due to inclement weather, the on-site King Day 2024 celebration has been moved to online. Read more below.

Some History on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta Georgia and died on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee by assignation at the age of 39. He was a Baptist minister and a civil rights activist, especially for the civil rights of people of color. Dr. King was married to Coretta Scott King with whom he had four children, Yolanda, Martin III, Dexter, and Bernice. He attended Morehouse College (BA), Crozer Theological Seminary (BDiv), and Boston University (PhD). In 1964, Dr. King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

Listen to and Watch Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963, is where Dr. King presented his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. Hearing the speech in it entirety as opposed to an excerpt is a moving experience. After listening to and watching the speech, you can discuss the text in full; compare the issues Dr. King presented in 1963 and see how relevant they are today.

Practice penmanship, dictation, and memorization.

Choose a favorite excerpt from the speech and work on penmanship by writing that favorite excerpt. For students who are able, have them practice dictation writing that excerpt. All students can practice their penmanship writing specific words from the excerpt for younger learners and the full excerpt for older students.

Visit the National Civil Rights Museum.

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis has moved its King Day 2024 celebration online and you can watch it from the comfort of your home. Tune in on Monday, January 15, 2024, at 11:30 a.m. CST for a “memorable virtual experience” and celebrate Dr. King’s 95th birthday. “History Moves Us Forward” is the theme for 2024 with a focus throughout the year on “major civil rights milestones“. Another resource is The King: A Legacy Remembered learning guide that provides more information about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the museum.

Picture courtesy of the National Civil Rights Museum.

The King Center Celebration

The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia will livestream its King Holiday Observance at 9 a.m. CST. ‘Shifting the Cultural Climate through the Study and Practice of Kingian Nonviolence’ is its strategic theme for 2024.

Whatever you do on Monday, January 15, 2024, on this holiday, take some time to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and learn more about the man and his legacy.

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