Social Studies: Help your students get to know Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


January 19, 2015 by HCDE Communications

MLK_web2Looking for ways to incorporate the history of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. into a school day social studies lesson? You might consider incorporating these facts into a classroom discussion or quiz game.

• The birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. is an American federal holiday observed on the third Monday of January each year. (His actual birthday is January 15.)

• Dr. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement.

• President Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983.

• Some states use alternative names for the holiday:  Robert E. Lee/Martin Luther King Birthday; Martin Luther King, Jr./Civil Rights Day; Martin Luther King, Jr./Human Rights Day.

• The national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service (1994) was begun by national legislators from Pennsylvania and Georgia.  The intent is to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action volunteer service in honor of Dr. King.

• One place outside of the United States, Hiroshima, Japan, holds a special banquet at the mayor’s office as an act of unifying the city’ s call for peace with Dr. King’s message on human rights.

• The city of Toronto, Canada, has officially recognized Martin Luther King, Jr. Day although it is not a paid holiday.

• Dr. King is most famous for his “I Have a Dream” speech given in front of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

• More than 730 cities in the United States have streets named for Dr. King.

• Awards bestowed on Dr. King include Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word album, 1971 (posthumously); Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1977, by President Carter; Congressional Gold Medal, 2004 (both Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King received the award); Second in Gallup’s List of Widely Admired People in the 20th Century; Time Person of the Year, 1963 and 2000; Third in the Greatest American contest (Discovery/AOL)

Additional resources: For additional historical evidence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s participation in the Civil Rights Movement, see: Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955; Civil Rights Act of 1954; Voting Rights Act, 1965; The Albany Movement, 1961; The Birmingham Campaign, 1963; St. Augustine, FL, 1964; Selma, AL, 1964; March on Washington, 1963.

About the Blogger:
Mary Lynn Johnson is curriculum director for social studies at HCDE. The veteran Spring ISD teacher, former assistant principal and program director follows her passion to share the educational advantages of learning about the past. Her first love is teaching social studies and turning students and teachers on to history, geography, government and economics. Her zeal as a social studies leader earned her the 2012 Texas Social Studies Supervisors Association “Supervisor of the Year” award.


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