Celebrating Dr. King and His Legacy

As we know, Martin Luther King Jr. fought for equal civil rights for all African Americans.  Each year, on the third Monday of January, we celebrate his life and his dream for equality for all. Upon doing research for this great man, students will readily be able to find that he was born on January 15, 1929, participated in numerous peaceful demonstrations in regard to unfair treatment of African Americans, is famous for his speech, “I Have a Dream,” and was tragically assassinated on April 4, 1968.  But, less well-known facts may provide opportunities for rich discussions and more a more in-depth understanding of this heroic man.

Little-Known Facts about Dr. KingStone of Hope

  • He was born Michael King Jr. and was named after his father, Michael King Sr.   When Martin Jr. was five years old, his father changed their names to Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr.  It was said that King Sr. found out that his real name was Martin Luther but his mother called him Michael as a nickname, and he wanted his son and he to be known by their given names.
  • At the age of 35, he became the youngest man ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and he donated all of his prize money to benefit the civil rights movement.
  • Between 1957 and 1968, he traveled more than 6 million miles and spoke at more than 2,500 events.
  • In 1963, he was the first African American to be named Time magazine’s Man of the Year.
  • There are more than 900 streets in the United States that are named after him.
  • King is the only non-president to have a national holiday in his name and the only non-president to have a memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
  • More than a hundred national parks and historical sites across the United States waive admission fees in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Great Books on a Great Man

Here are some great books where difficult concepts are made understandable and transitioned into an approachable manner that you can read to or with your students to help them gain a better understanding about the fascinating life and legacy of Dr. King.

Grades K-2
Martin Luther King, Jr. by Dona Herweck
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Doreen Rappaport
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Robin Hill School) by Margot McNamara
The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Johnny Rae Moore and Amy Wummer
My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Martin Luther III King and AJ Ford
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Cole
If A Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks by Faith Ringgold

 Grades 3-5
Martin Luther King Jr. Marching for Equality by Stephanie E. Macceca
Civil Rights Movement by Wendy Conklin
I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr. and Kaddir Nelson
DR Readers: Free at Last: The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Angela Bull
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream Speech in Translation: What It Really Means by Leslie Holland
Who Was Martin Luther King Jr.? by Bonnie Bader