Martin Luther King

“I have a dream,” began Martin Luther King on a warm summer’s day in August 1963. He went on to give one of the most famous speeches in history. In front of 250,000 people in Washington DC, he called for people to be judged “not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”.

It became King’s most famous moment in the struggle for civil rights. Five years after his famous speech, aged 39, he was assassinated. By then, he had helped to bring about huge changes in the way black people were treated in the USA. He led peaceful marches and campaigns throughout the southern states of America. He helped end segregation (keeping black and white people apart) and he supported laws which made sure black people could vote.

Monday (20 January) is Martin Luther King Day in the USA, timed to fall around his birthday. It is a time for Americans – and the rest of the world – to reflect on King’s work and legacy.

Your school can get involved by learning about King. You can also learn about the groups that continue King’s work today. Did his dream ever come true? What difficulties still face black people in the USA and elsewhere? What can we learn from King’s peaceful methods?

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King did not lead the civil rights movement alone. Lots of other people, including women, helped. Learn more about Shirley Chisholm, who became the first black woman elected to the US congress in 1968 – the same year that King was killed.


  1. Draw a cartoon which tells some key moments in the story of Martin Luther King’s life.
  2. Write your own version of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream speech’, on an issue you care about.