Monday, January 20, 2014


Martin Luther King, Jr. would have celebrated his 85th birthday this month. Each January, when reading or listening to a recording of Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, we’re reminded of the power of his words and how they helped inspire change in America.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.' I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
We encourage students that, with persistence and hard work, all dreams are possible. To honor Dr. King’s memory educators may discuss Dr. King’s famous speech aloud with students to express how his ideas relate to our world today.
            Ask students to write their own “I have a dream today” speech. Using the following questions may help focus writing ideas:
  • What is something special you hope to happen soon in your life?
  • What do you hope or dream about happening for your family?
  • Do you have any hopes or dreams for your friends?
  • Do you have any hopes or dreams for the world?
      After writing a personal speech just as Dr. King did, give students a chance to share their hopeful “I have a dream” speeches aloud to help show the power of the spoken word.

There are several good books about Martin Luther King’s life and legacy. One popular picture book is My Brother Martin written by his sister Christine King Farris with detailed illustrations by Chris Soenpiet.

This book shares how Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up in Atlanta in the 1930’s. He liked to joke and had to practice the piano like a lot of children still do, but young Martin was told by his white neighbors that they couldn’t play with him because of the color of his skin. That’s when he first began to dream about the need for change in our world. This book shows readers the thoughtful boy who became Dr. King, a man with a courageous dream that continues to inspire people each and everyday.


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