Meet Martin Luther King: the Man and the Message (page 2)

Meet Martin Luther King: the Man and the Message

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Updated on Jan 7, 2010

Recommended Speech: “Drum Major Instinct,” 1968

Book Recommendation: Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 by Juan Williams

For Middle Schoolers:

Carson says kids of this age can start to pick apart some of King's speeches, much as you would a piece of literature. Highlighting parts of King's speeches is a great way to teach about language mechanics, such as metaphor and simile, he says. For example, in the “I've Been to the Mountaintop Speech” of 1968 King said white authorities didn't understand when they turned fire hoses on civil rights protesters that, “There was a certain kind of fire that no water can put out.” Asking your middle schooler, “What would be a kind of fire that no water could put out” is a good way to reflect upon King's oratory technique and upon the strength of the civil rights movement.

Recommended Speech: “I've Been to the Mountaintop,” 1968

Book Recommendation:The Young Oxford History of African Americans by Robin D.G Kelley

For High Schoolers:

At this age, kids can start to broaden their understanding of King's philosophy; it wasn't just about the rights of African Americans, but about anyone's rights to civil disobedience in the face of oppression. Duke says this idea, that anyone can make a commitment to nonviolent protest in face of difficulty, is a powerful message that rings true for high schoolers.

Carson says teens today should know that many peaceful protests during civil rights movements, such as the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, were lead by teenagers themselves. Getting involved in the fight for social justice is one of the best ways to honor King, says Carson. The good news is: “There are probably more social justice groups around today then there were then,” he says.

Recommended Speech: “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence”, 1967

Recommended Book: Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock by Melba Pattillo Beals

Even though today is a special day marked out to celebrate King, Carson says parents should consider honoring King at other points during the year, through discussion, reading, or better yet, action through community service. “Do something in September and plant the seed so that when January comes around next year there's an awareness already there,” he says.

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