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7 Tools for Teaching MLK Today

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On Monday, many of us will join in opportunities for celebration and service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In recent years, historians and experts have intensified their calls for a broader understanding of the American Civil Rights movement and the actors and issues involved. At Brightspark, we have long understood and appreciated the role of grassroots organizations and "everyday heroes," as well as the now-iconic leaders, that worked to effect change. In the spirit of moving "beyond the master narrative," we invite educators, parents, and students to browse the resources below in order to place Dr. King's leadership in a wider context—they explore not only social systems of the mid-20th century but connection points to the present.

Keep reading for articles, lesson plans, and more resources to help us teach MLK today.

Teaching Tolerance

Get inspired to serve, learn how to align Dr. King's legacy to social justice standards, and find a collection of classroom resources and lesson plans aimed at "Teaching the Life and Legacy of MLK" from a leading non-profit generating content "to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy."

You can also read through these quick "Do's and Don'ts of Celebrating MLK Day" as you approach classroom conversations and lessons.

Facing History and Ourselves

Covering three decades, "Eyes on the Prize" is a teaching unit on the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Its lesson plans provide a framework for students to approach race, civic engagement,  and social change.

Understand how Dr. King leveraged and was aided by technology—and how the same issues apply today—as you explore "Digital Tools to Inspire Your Students on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day."

Using "pivotal moments in history," this educational support organization encourages students to "connect choices made in the past to those they will confront in their own lives." Follow their approach with this essay on the life and legacy of Dr. King, and click through for a related lesson plan.

PBS Newshour

Find discussion questions, activities, and videos to help you build lessons on Martin Luther King, Jr.

The New York Times

From analyzing how his words resonate in the present day to lesson plans and multimedia resources, dive into the Learning Network's resources on teaching and celebrating Dr. King all year long. 

Have you found other resources that help you teach MLK and civil rights today? Share them with us!
We're always working to build out our Civil Rights Classroom Resources