Civil Rights Leaders - Martin Luther King Jr.

                                                                                                                                                           Written by Phil Foster 





I. Warm-up

A. Conversation

1. What have you heard about the Civil Rights Movement?

2. What were the goals of the Civil Rights Movement?

3. What did the Civil Rights Movement accomplish? 

4. Have you heard of any Civil Rights Leaders?

5. Can you name any of the events from the iconic MLK photos above?


 B. Vocabulary Words/Expression

1. equality (noun)

2. segregation (noun)

3. sociology (noun)

4. minister (noun)

5. boycott (verb)

6. bill (noun)



a. The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.

b. The action or state of setting someone or something apart from other people or things or being set apart.

c. The study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.

d. A person whose job involves leading church services, performing religious ceremonies (such as marriages), and providing spiritual or religious guidance to other people

e. Withdraw from commercial or social relations with (a country, organization, or person) as a punishment or protest.

f. A form or draft of a proposed statute presented to a legislature, but not yet enacted or passed and made law.


 II. Listen and Repeat

1.) Martin Luther King Jr. was best known for his non-violent protests and speeches calling for equality.

2.) The separation of people of different colors was called segregation.

3.) In 1948, Martin Luther King Jr. graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in sociology.

4.) In order to become a minister like his father, Martin Luther King Jr. enrolled in a seminary to study religion.

5.) Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders organized a boycott of the bus system.

6.) In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a national  holiday to remember King’s life and accomplishments. 

MLK Video Biography (Courtesy of Bio Channel)  


III. Language Comprehension 

1.) Martin Luther King Jr. was born and raised in ________.

2.) Martin Luther King Jr. skipped two grades and graduated high school at the age of _____. 

3.) Martin Luther King Jr. studied _______ at Morehouse college.

4.) In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous, “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the _______.

5.) In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. received the ________ due to his tireless efforts in the civil rights movement. 

6.) Congress passed the _________ which made segregation and discrimination based on race, sex and religion illegal. 

7.) In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a _____ to create Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

(Answer Key can be found at the end of the lesson)                                          


IV. Reading Exercise 

        Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was a Baptist minister and social activist who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. Inspired by advocates of nonviolence such as Mahatma Gandhi, King sought equality for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged and victims of injustice through peaceful protest. He was the driving force behind watershed events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, which helped bring about such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a U.S. federal holiday since 1986.

        The second child of Martin Luther King Sr. (1899-1984), a pastor, and Alberta Williams King (1904-1974), a former schoolteacher, Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929. Along with his older sister, the future Christine King Farris (born 1927), and younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams King (1930-1969), he grew up in the city’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood, then home to some of the most prominent and prosperous African Americans in the country. 

        A gifted student, King attended segregated public schools and at the age of 15 was admitted to Morehouse College, the alma mater of both his father and maternal grandfather, where he studied medicine and law. Although he had not intended to follow in his father’s footsteps by joining the ministry, he changed his mind under the mentorship of Morehouse’s president, Dr. Benjamin Mays, an influential theologian and outspoken advocate for racial equality. After graduating in 1948, King entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree, won a prestigious fellowship and was elected president of his predominantly white senior class.


(Article Details: Martin Luther King Jr., Author: Staff, Website Name:, Year Published: 2009, Title Martin Luther King Jr., URL


A. Comprehension Questions

1. Who was one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s main influences that inspired his non-violence protest movement?

2. In what neighborhood of Atlanta did Martin Luther King spend his youth?

3. Who was Martin Luther King Jr.'s mentor during his time at Morehouse College?


III. Grammar

Preposition - a word governing, and usually preceding, a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element in the clause (ex: the caterpillar and the apple)

In vs. On

In – Often used for unspecific times or to specify locations

On – Often used to specify days/dates or indicates the surface of something

 Exercise 1

   Directions: Choose the correct prepostion from those in brackets. Explain why you have chosen each one. 

1.) Martin Luther King Jr. was born (in/on) Atlanta, Georgia (in/on) January 15th, 1929.

2.)  (In/On) 1963, Martin Luther King delivered his famous, “I have a dream” speech (in/on) the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 

3.) (In/on) December of 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat (in/on) the bus. 



Rules to Remember -                                                                   

If you must walk to your seat, you “get on” (bus, train, plane). If you sit directly in your seat, you “get in” (car, truck, taxi).


Exercise 2

   Directions: Look at the following diagram with your teacher. Make up sentences using the prepositions illustrated. 







 V. Vocabulary Review


1. equality (noun)

2. segregation (noun)

3. sociology (noun)

4.minister (noun)

5. boycott (verb)

6. bill (noun)

Directions: Write your own sentences to incorporate the vocabulary words we have learned. Try to add the grammar as well. 








VI. Wrap-up Conversation

1. Why do you think Martin Luther King Jr. is still remembered today?

2. What current political movements could you compare to the Civil Rights Movement of the past?

3. Want to learn more about this charismatic man? Do this Listening and Writing exercise from the LOI Blog. Click here


VII. Possible Future Lessons

I. The Civil War: The Bloodiest War in American History

II. William Shakespeare 






 Answer Key

  1.) Atlanta, Georgia 

 2.) 15 years old

3.) Sociology

4.) The Lincoln Memorial

5.) Nobel Peace Prize

6.) Civil Rights Act

 7.) Bill


Image result for loienglish logo


Photo Credits 

Photo #1

Photo #2

Photo #3

Photo #4

Photo #5 










 Photo Credits:

1., Dick DeMarsico, World Telegram staff photographer, No copyright restriction known.

2. Stoughton, White House Press Office, This image is in the public domain and may be used free of charge without permissions or fees.

3., Author Unknkown, Published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice.

4.,_Jr_I_Have_a_..., National Archives, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

5.,_D.C._(Dr._Martin_Luther_King,_Jr._and_Mathew_Ahmann_in_a_crowd.)_-_NARA_-_542015_-_Restoration.jpg, Rowland Scherman; restored by Adam Cuerden, U.S. Information Agency. Press and Publications Service. (ca. 1953 - ca. 1978) This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.




Grammar Point: