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CNN Student News Learning Activity: MLK's "I Have a Dream" Speech

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  • Students will examine Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech
  • Students will compose responses to the speech based on life in 2009
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(CNN Student News) -- Students will examine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Also, they will compose responses to Dr. King in which they compare his historic vision of racial equality in the United States to the reality of present-day life.


In class discussion, have students define the following terms: racism, prejudice and discrimination. Have them give examples of each. Inform students that, on August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared his vision of racial equality in America in his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. Then, point out that in his speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of being judged not by the color of one's skin, but by the content of his or her character.

Direct your students to read or watch Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech and discuss its content in class. Then, challenge each student to compare Dr. King's dream to the reality of life in the U.S. in the year 2009. Direct each student to compose a response to Dr. King, explaining what life is like in the U.S. today and to what extent his dream has been realized. (Encourage students to be creative in their responses. For example, students could write a letter, a speech, a song or a poem, or produce a brief video.) After students share their responses to Dr. King, pose the following questions for class discussion:

  • Do you think that in today's society individuals are judged by the content of their character and not by their race? Give examples to support your opinion.
  • Do prejudice and discrimination exist today? Explain.
  • What is being done to realize Dr. King's dream in 2009?
  • Do you think that Dr. King's dream has become a reality? Why or why not?
  • Correlated Standards

    Social Studies

    II. Time, Continuity and Change Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.

    X. Civic Ideals and Practices Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.

    The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies ( ) are published by the National Council for Social Studies ( ).

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