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Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister and prominent civil rights activist, was born on January 15, 1929. At birth, his parents named him Michael King, Jr. However, King's father, Michael King Sr. later changed his name to Martin Luther King in honor of the Protestant religious leader. His son, Martin Luther King, Jr. followed his father's lead and changed his name as well.
In 1953, King married Coretta Scott and together they had four children. Martin Luther King, Jr. earned a doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955.
In the late 1950's, King became a leader in the civil rights movement working to end segregation. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech to more than 200,000 people at the March on Washington.
Dr. King advocated non-violent protests and shared his belief and hope that all people could be treated as equals regardless of their race. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Tragically, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated four years later on April 4, 1968.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill designating the third Monday in January as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday honoring Dr. King. Many people celebrate the holiday by volunteering in their communities as a way of honoring the civil rights leader by giving back.
If you want to honor Dr. King on this holiday, try ideas such as:
- serve in your community
- read a biography about Dr. King
- choose one of his speeches or a quote and write about what it means to you
- create a timeline of the important events in his life
If you are a teacher who wants to share Martin Luther King, Jr's legacy with your young students, the following printouts can be helpful.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Vocabulary
Print the pdf: Martin Luther King, Jr. Vocabulary Sheet
Use this activity to introduce students to Martin Luther King, Jr. Students will use a dictionary or the Internet to define words related to Dr. King. They will write each word on the line next to its correct definition.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Wordsearch
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Students can use this activity to review the terms associated with Martin Luther King, Jr. Each word from the word bank can be found among the jumbled letters in the word search.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Crossword Puzzle
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Students can review the terms related to Martin Luther King, Jr. as they complete this fun crossword puzzle. They will use the clues provided to fill in the puzzle with the correct terms from the word bank.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Challenge
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Challenge your students to see how many of the facts they've learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. they remember. For each clue, students will circle the correct word from the multiple choice options.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Alphabet Activity
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Use this activity to help your children practice alphabetizing words. Each word is associated with Martin Luther King, Jr., providing another review opportunity as students place each term in correct alphabetical order.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Draw and Write
Print the pdf: Martin Luther King, Jr. Draw and Write Page
Use this Draw and Write printable to provide an opportunity for students to practice their handwriting, composition, and drawing skills. First, they will draw a picture relating to something they've learned about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Then, on the blank lines, they can write about their drawing.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Coloring Page
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Print this page for your students to color while you brainstorm ways to honor Dr. King on the 3rd Monday of January. You can also use it as a quiet activity for students to complete as you read aloud a biography of the civil rights leader.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Speech Coloring Page
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Martin Luther King, Jr. was an eloquent, persuasive speaker whose words advocated non-violence and unity. Color this page after you read some of his speeches or while listening to a recording of them.