First 5 LA Hall of Heroes: Martin Luther King, Jr.

As your child’s first teacher, you can help them learn about people in history who changed the world for the better. This month, celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with teaching ideas and engaging activities to help you and your child learn, grow and be inspired!

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of a preacher. He was a very good student and skipped two grades, entering Morehouse College at the age of 15. Martin followed in his father’s footsteps by studying theology and becoming a minister.

In 1955 Martin got involved in civil rights when an African American woman named Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. Martin led a boycott of the bus system that lasted for more than a year. Over the course of that year, Martin was arrested and his house was bombed, but he kept fighting for equality for all people. Thanks to the peaceful protests he led, bus segregation ended in 1956.

Over the years, Martin continued to fight for the rights of all people, including African Americans. He believed in protesting without violence. In 1963, in front of 250,000 people at a civil rights march in Washington D.C., he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” In 1964, the Civil Rights Act passed and Martin became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Throughout his life, Martin worked on finding peaceful solutions to problems and helping all people live with dignity. In 1968 his work and his life were cut short when he was assassinated. Martin’s legacy continues in those who fight for equality and justice today.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Learning Activities:

Make a ‘Change the World’ Poster: Martin Luther King, Jr. worked hard to create change. If your child could change one thing about the world, what would it be? Make a poster about the things you would like to change, and their possible solutions.

Watts Towers Arts Center

1727 E 107th St, Los Angeles, CA 90002

Created by immigrant Simon Rodia, the Watts Towers are an extraordinary collection of handmade, soaring structures in central Los Angeles. The towers survived the Watts Rebellion of 1965 and became a symbol of freedom, diversity and determination. They were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

Read and Learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. with these books:

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier

This beautifully illustrated biography is an excellent introduction to Dr. King’s life, exploring his work and the impact of his legacy. Informative but easy to understand, it’s a great read-aloud.

This Is the Dream by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander, illustrated by James Ransome

Told in rhyme, this picture book tells the story of segregation, the civil rights movement and how much has changed since then: “These are the buses – a dime buys a ride, but the people are sorted by color inside.” A compelling read-aloud that explores important issues and change.

We March by Shane W. Evans

A family gets ready for a big event! Easy-to-understand text and lush illustrations tell the story of a family marching in peaceful protest with people from all walks of life. Join the energy and excitement in advocating with others.

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