If you are unfamiliar with or hope to teach young people about Dr. King’s values and his leadership in the non-violent struggle for equal rights, I have put together just a few of the many resources we have for that purpose.
Selma [videorecording] / Paramount Pictures, Pathé and Harpo Films present; produced by Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner ; written by Paul Webb; directed by Ava DuVernay. This film is the story of a movement. It chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. PG-13
King: A Man of Peace in Time of War 60 minutes. A fascinating and revealing look at the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. filtered through the prism of three major conflicts: the struggle between black and white America, divisiveness with the civil rights movement itself, and an undeclared war in Vietnam. A salute to a man who remains an inspiration and a force for social change nearly forty years after his death at age 39.
Books for very young children:
A Lesson For Martin Luther King, Jr. Relates an incident from the childhood of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., when his best friend’s father said they could no longer play together because “colored and white can’t mix!”
For Juvenile/Elementary Students:
Marching to the mountaintop : how poverty, labor fights, and civil rights set the stage for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final hours / Ann Bausum. In early 1968 the grisly on-the-job deaths of two African-American sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, prompted an extended strike by that city’s segregated force of trash collectors. Workers sought union protection, higher wages, improved safety, and the integration of their work force. Their work stoppage became a part of the larger civil rights movement and drew an impressive array of national movement leaders to Memphis, including, on more than one occasion, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. : great civil rights leader / by Jennifer Fandel; illustrated by Brian Bascle. A biography telling the life story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his leadership in the civil rights movement to stop racism, segregation, and discrimination in the United States. Written in graphic-novel format.
Age 10 and up:
Marching for freedom : walk together, children, and don’t you grow weary / Elizabeth Partridge. Only 44 years ago in the U.S., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was leading a fight to win blacks the right to vote. Ground zero for the movement became Selma, Alabama. Award-winning author Elizabeth Partridge leads you straight into the chaotic, passionate, and deadly three months of protests that culminated in the landmark march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.
Martin Luther King, Jr., spirit-led prophet : a biography / Richard Deats ; foreword by Coretta Scott King tells the compelling story of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr pastor, theologian, scholar, orator, civil rights leader, martyr. Spirit-led Prophet chronicles Kings activities illustrating his nonviolent faith and how he lived it out in his ministry. In the midst of a tumultuous public life, King prayed for guidance and depended upon God’s spirit to lead him. Despite the cruelty and violence of the forces arrayed against the movement, King stressed the necessity to love one’s enemies, to believe that unearned suffering is redemptive and to have faith in God’s just purposes. Refusing to limit his mission to civil rights, he wrote and spoke passionately against the war in Vietnam and on behalf of the world’s poor.
April 4, 1968 : Martin Luther King Jr.’s death and transformation of America / Michael Eric Dyson. On April 4, 1968, at 6:01 PM, while he was standing on a balcony at a Memphis hotel, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and fatally wounded. Only hours earlier King—the prophet for racial and economic justice in America—ended his final speech with the words, “I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.”
For a thorough review of African American history, I recommend:
Life upon these shores : looking at African American history, 1513-2008 / Henry Louis Gates. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., gives us a sumptuously illustrated landmark book tracing African American history from the arrival of the conquistadors to the election of Barack Obama. Informed by the latest, sometimes provocative scholarship and including more than seven hundred images—ancient maps, fine art, documents, photographs, cartoons, posters—Life Upon These Shores focuses on defining events, debates, and controversies, as well as the signal achievements of people famous and obscure.
These are just a few of the many books and media we have about King and the civil rights movement. Find more on our website.
For more information about the meaning of the holiday that is set aside for Martin Luther King, Jr., visit The King Center website.
Happy Reading and Viewing, Susan C.