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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream of Nonviolence

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 90 years ago. Students today can still learn so much from Dr. King Jr.’s dream of nonviolent conflict-resolution. In this resource from ReadWriteThink.org show how to do this with modern texts.

In this lesson, students identify how the rapper, Common and writer, Walter Dean Myers, reinterprets Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of nonviolence in their own works. This lesson also aims to expose high school students to nonviolent options of conflict-resolution.

To activate prior knowledge, students will watch Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and read Doreen Rappaport’s picture book, Martin’s Big Words, and recall how he approached conflict.

The students will connect Dr. King’s answer to conflict-resolution with Common’s interpretation of nonviolence, as demonstrated in his song, “A Dream.”

The students will also connect this dream of nonviolence to Walter Dean Myers’ short story, “Monkeyman,” from the book 145th Street.

Students work on task prior to reading the short story in order to encourage a text-based discussion on characterization and conflict. The students will be introduced to Dr. King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence and compose a thesis essay as a final assessment.

This lesson is a great way to show how nonviolence is portrayed through characterization and conflict.

How do you keep the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive?