By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki
“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is, in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Martin Luther King, Jr., national holiday in the United States, which falls on Monday, Jan. 15, is an opportune time to visit the concept of civil disobedience, using fascinating, informative content from the Bill of Rights Institute.
Bill of Rights Institute
The Bill of Rights Institute, which provides a wealth of social studies and civics education resource through Curriki, is an educational nonprofit dedicated to helping high school history teachers enhance their students’ understanding of their rights and responsibilities as citizens. It also provides an awareness of the historical and intellectual origins of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
For the MLK Holiday, it digs deep to make your students think.
Martin Luther King Day Resources
The Institute’s “Taking a Stand: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” lesson plan gives students, teachers and homeschoolers opportunities to reflect on King’s life and legacy, especially the role he played in leading the U.S. civil rights movement. Rather than rejecting an America that discriminated against a particular race, King fought for his country to fulfill its own promise that “all men are created equal.” He grounded his appeals for liberty and racial equality in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Links the Bill of Rights makes available to explore how King did this include:
- Reading “The Civil Rights Movement”
- Doing classroom activities surrounding “Brown v. Board of Education (1954),” “Persevering from Selma to Montgomery” and “The Declaration and Martin Luther King, Jr.”
- Learning “About Dr. King” from the King Center
- Watching the video of King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” Speech
- Reading King’s famous Letter from Birmingham Jail
We the Students Essay Contest
The Bill of Rights Institute is also holding its annual “We the Students” Essay Contest for students in grades 8-12. Spread the word! Students are asked to write an essay in response to the prompt “To what extent in the U.S. does the government – federal, state, and local – have the duty to monitor internet content?”
To put the prompt in context with current events, the institute asks students to think about whether schools should be able to keep tabs on students’ social media to prevent internet bullying, and whether there should there be regulations that prohibit President Trump from tweeting.
The Institute is awarding more than $20,000 in scholarship and prizes to the students who submit the best essays. The first place winner will receive $5,000 and a scholarship to the Institute’s 2018 Constitutional Academy in Washington, D.C.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Another great opportunity to truly absorb the universal message of Dr. King is to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. This moving memorial features a giant sculpture of Dr. King emerging from “the stone of hope,” and numerous tableaux of his most famous quotes espousing his non-violent philosophy striving for freedom, justice and equality.
The memorial, dedicated in 2011, marked the first time an African American honored with a memorial on the National Mall and the fourth non-president to be remembered in such a way.
If you can’t get to the nation’s capital, the memorial’s website is a great place to start. Read King’s famous quotes and then discus them in class!
Other Bill of Rights Resources
You’ll find a myriad of other resources about the Bill of Rights and Freedoms of the Press, Assembly and Petition, and much more at the Bill of Rights Institute. Use it year round!
Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.