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Study guide  |  Lesson plan

Study guide

MLK Pledge


Matt Williams, 8, writes a Martin Luther King Jr. pledge

As a companion to this Web site, the following study guide is intended to prompt further discussion about King's life and legacy, and particularly about how the society has changed (or not changed) due to the civil rights movement. The Internet can be a powerful tool for learning. Educators and parents may want to use the following questions as a way of talking about these critical social issues, and of exploring this and other Web sites.

  1. Why was Martin Luther King Jr. attracted to the philosophy of Mohandas Gandhi? Research Gandhi's life and philosophy and discuss how the two men's approaches and beliefs were similar, and how they might have disagreed.

  2. Julian Bond writes: "The civil rights movement, enjoying its widest national support at the Edmunds Pettis Bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965, was actually preparing to self-destruct, its demands increasing and its public support diminishing." In what way was it preparing to self-destruct? What happened with the civil rights movement in the next ten years after 1965, and why did its course change so dramatically?

  3. What examples of a movement similar to the civil rights movement exist today, either in America or elsewhere in the world? What are some of the strategies people are using to win those rights?

  4. What did King mean when he said, in 1965, "I'm much more than a civil rights leader"? See the discussion by Julian Bond, and try to imagine what King might have done in five years or in 10 years had he lived.

  5. In his article about the King holiday, Paul Andrews writes: "King is the only American besides George Washington to have a national holiday designated for his birthday." What were the reasons people argued FOR and AGAINST creating the holiday? Do you think it was a good idea? Why, or why not?

  6. Is the King holiday important mostly to African Americans? Why or why not?

  7. If King were to come to your school one day, and look around and listen, what would he say about the nature of race relations there now?

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