Powerful Resources for Teaching and Learning about Dr. Martin Luther King and Civil Rights

Martin Luther King Jr. delivers a speech to a crowd of approximately 7,000 people on May 17, 1967, at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza in Berkeley, California. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Dr. David Childs, D.D., Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

With the US becoming more and more diverse, there is a push around the country to diversify school curricula and provide more inclusive classrooms. As such, educators are seeking resources to do this in a more meaningful way. Martin Luther King Day is a wonderful time to integrate multicultural themes into the classroom, making it more inclusive. With this in mind, PBS Learning Media has provided some incredible resources for teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights in general for grades K-12 classrooms. See the resources below from the PBS website. Each resource below also includes the write up provided by PBS Learning Media to give educators and the public an idea of what the link provides. 

Image by: U.S . Embassy New Delhi “Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. | Civil Rights Leader Video
“In 1983, Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a federal holiday (national observances started in 1986.) This year the holiday is observed on January 17. Help your students deeply understand and connect to King’s legacy by watching this short video and using the accompanying hands-on activities to explore how King’s leadership expanded social justice, particularly for African Americans.”

Dr. Martin Luther King at Gee’s Bend | Retro Report
“This eight-minute video illustrates the achievements of the civil rights movement, as well as the enduring challenges facing black Americans, by focusing on the small community of Gee’s Bend, Ala., a town that attracted the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960s. The video helps students draw a line between the battles fought by King’s movement nearly five decades ago and the barriers to equality and opportunity that residents of Gee’s Bend face today. For lessons focused on the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the video serves as a bridge between the past and the present, and sets up a discussion about the unfinished agenda of King’s movement.”

Kids Can Be Changemakers | Meet the Helpers
“Your students are their own changemakers. This resource provides vocabulary, critical thinking questions, and discussion prompts to engage students through poetry. Discover workshops that center student voice and exploration with robust educator guides.”

Selma to Montgomery | Yellowhammer History Hunt
“Cross Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, with John Lewis and his fellow voting rights activists in this episode of Yellowhammer History Hunt. Learn about the Selma to Montgomery March, Courageous Eight, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the fight for voting rights.”

Arthur Takes a Stand | ARTHUR
“Discover ways to protest an injustice and have your voice heard using this video from the PBS KIDS series ARTHUR. When Mrs. MacGrady opens the cafeteria for breakfast and takes on double the work without any help, Arthur tries different ways to solve the problem. He begs the principal to hire help and even encourages students to boycott! Finally, after a pep talk from Congressman John Lewis, Arthur stages a peaceful protest. His classmates join him, and they refuse to leave the cafeteria until they are heard. But will it make enough of an impact to hire an assistant for Mrs. MacGrady?”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Impact in Cleveland | Politics on Point
“Martin Luther King Jr. left the famous march from Selma to Montgomery to come to Cleveland. Why? To encourage voter registration as a way for black people to let their voices be heard.”

Missing from Texts: Critical Changemakers
“As we reflect on this past year, it’s important to understand and acknowledge the sacrifices and compromises that we have made as a community. And even more so, to recognize and celebrate the selfless contributions of people to our world – even during COVID. Here are some changemakers from around the country who do amazing work and deserve to be celebrated for their contributions, the pathways they have set before and ahead of themselves, and the inspiration they provide to the countless activists who will continue doing work for our communities.”


  1. The resources provided give a better overview of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I believe the “I Have Dream” speech and assassination are more commonly taught in classroom settings. At the same time, his other accomplishments go unseen/unheard. Additionally, these resources would allow teachers/educators to provide more information about Dr. King and his importance in the Civil Rights Movement while allowing for a more diverse conversation within the classroom.

  2. I think most people do agree that Dr. King was revolutionary and one of the most important figures in history in general. But in schools, you typically only get to know the “I have a dream!” speech and the assassination. However, there is/was much much more to him than just that. This article links to plenty of different ideas and events to better give an overall summary of him, and his impact rather than just the two instantly recognizable topics everybody tends to learn young. Things such as the march from Selma and Montgomery are nearly never brought up in a valid educational way, at least in my experiences.

  3. I think we under sell Dr. King sometimes. Most of us only know him as the “I had a Dream” writer, but he is so much more! This article has given me a more tools to help teach about him and who he was outside of just his famous speech. I have read several of his other speeches and really love his darker to the point writing style. He was a pivotal part of the Civil Rights movement, and he needs to be celebrated for more than just one speech he gave.
    This article gives many different ways to add to the learning of Dr. King as well as other ways to diversify school curricula and provide more inclusive classrooms. This article does a really good job giving tools to use in the classroom for students to learn. This is a well written article and give a way to better become a teacher in today’s classrooms.

  4. This article provided me with some great resources to teach about Martin Luther King in my future classroom. I think these resources even go beyond just teaching about Martin Luther King. They can be used to teach your students about diversity and the Civil Rights Movement. I have seen many teachers teach about historical figures with a book which I think is great, however the book paired with these resources will be even more beneficial for students’ education.

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