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Illustration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s face with

Has Dr. Martin Luther King's Legacy Been Fulfilled?

While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is arguably the most well-known figure of the civil rights movement, many do not fully comprehend his impact on the lives of Americans. Teaching about Dr. King is essential for students to understand the struggle for civil rights that continued even today. It honors diversity and explores the values of justice. Allowing students to read and listen to Dr. King’s words helps them understand the power of taking informed action.

Lesson Overview

Upper elementary to middle school
Three one-day lessons plus one summative assessment
We the People Level 2
  • Unit 5, Lesson 25: How Has the Right to Vote Expanded Since the Constitution Was Adopted?
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework
  • D2.His.13.3-5. Use information about a historical source, including the maker, date, place of origin, intended audience, and purpose, to judge the extent to which the source is useful for studying a particular topic.
    D3.3.3-5. Identify evidence that draws information from multiple sources in response to compelling questions.
Educating for American Democracy Roadmap
Theme 3: We the People
  • HDQ: What distinctive challenges have accompanied race relations in the U.S. compared with other countries worldwide?
  • Design Challenge 2: America’s Plural Yet Shared History
Theme 5: Institutional and Social Transformation
  • CDQ: Are there specific moments of political and social change that constitute refoundings? Why or why not?
  • Design Challenge 4: Civic Honesty, Reflective Patriotism
Common Core Standards for Literacy in Social Studies
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.1: Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
  • Active learning
  • Attentiveness to political matters
  • Collaboration
  • Critical thinking
  • Incorporating evidence
  • Listening
  • Relationship skills
Students will develop their social awareness by showing understanding and empathy for others by articulating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream and how it shows up in their life and the lives of their peers. Note: This SEL focus will be further articulated in alignment with the lesson below.
Students will develop responsible decision-making by identifying problems, analyzing situations, solving problems, and reflecting.
  • Analyze Dr. King’s goals for the civil rights movement
  • Identify Dr. King’s accomplishments and obstacles during his time as a civil rights leader
  • Reflect on the impact Dr. King’s legacy has had on their own lives
  • Defend their position on whether Dr. King’s dream has been fulfilled
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of Dr. King’s goals for the civil rights movement by analyzing his “I Have a Dream” speech.
  • Students will identify accomplishments achieved and obstacles faced by Dr. King by evaluating specific events in Dr. King’s life.
  • Students will reflect on the impact of Dr. King’s legacy on their own lives by creating a connections poster using hexagonal thinking strategies.
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of Dr. King’s dream by reflecting on its impact on their lives.


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