Why We Commemorate MLK Day

The mission of The King Center, dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, is to “prepare global citizens to create a more just, humane and peaceful world using Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy and methodology.” As Coretta Scott King explained,

“The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America.”

This day offers educators an opportunity to teach students about related current events and their connection to history. There are clear links between MLK’s legacy and contemporary issues of civil rights, race relations, and matters of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Teaching Tolerance provides helpful resources, for example, that highlight MLK’s efforts to address systemic racism along with a very current collection of resources to help educators connect MLK with today’s current events pertaining to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Listenwise Stories

Our collection of public radio stories can support your teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Listen to these compelling stories, and ask your students some of these questions:

Using public radio stories with first person audio can spark conversations about the relationship between past protests and students’ current experiences. In a story about the anniversary of the famous 1963 march, activists reflect upon Marching on Washington: Then and Now. You can discuss stories about effective protest strategies  and organizing efforts and how a civil rights activist is “remixing” tested techniques. You can compare Black Lives Matter to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, which included lunch counter protests, school desegregation, and voting rights demonstrations.

Teachers and students can honor the legacy of MLK by discussing stories about contemporary civil rights activism, including protests against police brutality and racial injustice: more recently in 2020 protests to speak out against the shooting of Jacob Blake or George Floyd and protests in the streets of Charlottesville, on college campuses, and on sports fields.

Additional Resources