Many people consider Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be one of the great and inspiring leaders in American history. He's so significant that a federal holiday was named in his honor in 1983. The third Monday in January celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. and his contributions to U.S. history and culture. This holiday is called Martin Luther King Day or MLK Day for short. Despite the idea that some people think MLK Day is just another day away from school, hundreds of millions of Americans recognize the importance of this day and the significance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by providing volunteer services to others, attending parades, reading about Dr. King, reflecting on his life, creating artwork inspired by his achievements, reflecting on how their lives and communities are connected to his work, and more. Click below to watch an introductory video and learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the American Civil Rights Movement, and the meaning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "I Have a Dream" speech, August 28, 1963
Because of King's advocacy of non-violent protest and civil disobedience to draw attention to racial inequity and systemic injustice, he sometimes was in trouble with the law and viewed as controversial by some people. His vision to work with others to overcome hate with love and squash conflict with wisdom greatly changed our nation. Examine these articles about Dr. King and his well-known "I Have a Dream" speech, then use your knowledge and the articles to complete the activity below.
I Have a Dream Analysis
"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.
1. Summarize one the following strategies: non-violent protest, civil disobedience, or togetherness.
2. What way of thinking seemed to help Dr. King achieve more equality: Vision, Optimism, Teamwork, or Honesty? Explain.
3. Use your imagination and explain how the U.S. would be different without the contributions of Dr. King?
4. In your opinion, why do we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day?