I vividly remember the announcement by CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennesee. I was a middle school student in San Jose, California. On the following day, nothing was mentioned in my middle school classes about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. In fact, in my elementary and secondary school years, I had been exposed to very little about African Americans and their history.
Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born on January 15, 1929, would be turning 95 this year, and 41 years have passed since Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was approved as a federal holiday in 1983. SPICE recommends the use of a 13-minute lecture—titled “Civil and Human Rights: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy” by Dr. Clayborne Carson—for use at the high school and college levels. Dr. Carson is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor Emeritus at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, FSI, at Stanford University. In the video lecture, Professor Carson not only discusses Martin Luther King, Jr. as a civil rights leader but also examines his larger vision of seeing the African American struggle as a worldwide struggle for citizenship rights and human rights.
A free classroom-friendly discussion guide for this video is available for download at the webpage linked above. The organizing questions that are listed in the guide are:
- What are civil and human rights?
- What were the significant achievements of the Civil Rights Movement?
- What is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy in terms of civil and human rights?
- How are Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision, ideas, and leadership still relevant today?
- How is the American Civil Rights Movement similar and different from other rights-related movements?
SPICE also recommends the resources on the following websites for use in classrooms.
- The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute supports a broad range of educational activities illuminating Dr. King’s life and the movements he inspired. Dr. Carson is the founding director of the Institute.
- The World House Project works to realize Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of the world as a large house in which “we must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.” Dr. Carson is the director of the Project.
- The educational website “What Does It Mean to Be an American?” offers six lessons on immigration, civic engagement, leadership, civil liberties & equity, justice & reconciliation, and U.S.–Japan relations. The lessons encourage critical thinking through class activities and discussions.