Martin Luther King Jr. Education Resources

Martin Luther King Jr. Education Resources

Provided by PBS NewsHour

WXXI Education staff collected resources from PBS to support educators and families while learning about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

This is a list of curated educational resources for educators and families to use with their students and children. These resources are not to be used alone, but instead to integrate with other educational materials (conversations, lessons, speeches, video clips, books, etc.) to provide students with the most context and meaningful knowledge. 

Please note: 

  • These resources are free and open for all to use. 
  • This is not an exhaustive list of resources. 
  • These educational materials are to be used in conjunction with other resources, conversations, and instruction to provide the most complete context for students.
  • These resources are appropriate for middle and high school students, unless otherwise noted.
  • As with all educational materials, please preview these resources prior to utilizing with students to check for appropriateness.

Lessons, Video Clips, & Activities from PBS LearningMedia (for grades 6-12):

  • The Life & Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Historians reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his role in the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Leader: In the second half of the 20th century, racial tensions rose in the US as African Americans began to challenge unjust laws that supported discrimination and segregation. This movement found its leader in the patient and inspiring minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Students will watch a short video and engage in two primary source activities in order to explore how King’s deep-seated commitment to nonviolence contributed to the expansion of social justice in the United States, particularly for African Americans.

  • Excerpts from the March on Washington - Part 1 & Part 2
    • Part 1: The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech dominates popular history of the August 1963 March on Washington, but the day was full of speakers and performers. This audio compilation captures the voices of A. Philip Randolph, Ralph Abernathy, Roy Wilkins, Walter Reuther, Ralph Bunche, and Daisy Bates.
    • Part 2: At the 1963 March on Washington, civil rights leaders offered a "Tribute to Women," which recognized the leadership roles of women in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the widows of civil rights leaders who were murdered for their activism. This recording pays tribute to Rosa Parks, Daisy Bates, Diane Nash, Mrs. Herbert Lee, Mrs. Medgar Evers, and Gloria Richardson. 

  • Road to Memphis - Dr. King Launches the Poor People's CampaignIn 1968, Martin Luther King launched the Poor People's Campaign to bring people together across racial lines to fight systemic poverty. Video from, American Experience: "Roads to Memphis."

  • Freedom Summer: Civil Rights Workers DisappearThe disappearance of civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner occurred on June 21, at the very beginning of what became known as “Freedom Summer,” as seen in this video from American Experience: “1964.” Although their bodies were not found until August, the resulting media attention increased national awareness of the violence and injustices facing blacks every day in Mississippi and the white volunteers who had come to join in the fight. This resource is part of the American Experience Collection.

  • Malcolm X Challenges Martin Luther King, Jr.'s GoalsWatch Malcolm X challenge Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision for racial equality in this 1963 interview with Kenneth Clarke from WGBH's "The Negro and the American Promise." Excerpted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: "Malcolm X."

  • Students Reflect on "I Have a Dream" Speech: Hear students' thoughts on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and examine the state of equality in the U.S. with videos from Student Reporting Labs and a discussion guide.

  • Reaction to the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, 1968: Citizens gather at a public rally in Boston, Massachusetts, following the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., in this archival news footage from April 1968. One speaker featured in the footage states that King had been “prepared to give his life for justice in America” in Boston and in the various cities King had visited throughout the South. Another speaker talks about America’s unwillingness—not its inability—to end racism, questions the meaning of “law and order,” and calls violence the “inevitable outcome of oppression.”

Lesson Plans From PBS NewsHour (for grades 9-12):

  • The March on Washington & It's Impact: Students will read Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech and explore themes such as the social conditions in the U.S. that led to the Civil Rights Movement, King’s philosophy and practice of peaceful resistance, the immediate impact of the March on society at the time and the long-term significance of the March.

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s "I Have a Dream" Speech as Visual Text: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Students will examine why the speech was a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement and explain their analysis through a visual drawing or illustration.

  • Martin Luther King Jr.s "I Have a Dream" Speech as a Work of Literature: Students will study Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and discuss the rhetorical influences on King’s speech, the oratorical devices that King used in delivering his speech and how a speech is similar to/different from other literary forms.

  • Music & Speeches at the March on Washington: In this lesson, explore the full range of events and speeches given at the historic March on Washington led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders of the civil rights movement.

  • MLK Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and the Capitol Hill Attack: In this lesson, students will be asked to examine some overt examples of racism at the Capitol Hill Riot on Jan. 6. They will also be asked to consider some other signs of white supremacy and racism surrounding events leading up to, during and after the riot. Students will analyze Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “The Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” including the section in which he wrote “the Negroes’ great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom…[is] the white moderate.” Finally, students will consider how the Letter might offer some prescriptions for racism in 2021 and beyond.

Additional connected resources:

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