Martin Luther King

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr delivered a speech to 250,000 supporters that is now known by millions around the world.

He told the public that he had a dream that America would one day live by its declaration that “all men are created equal”. He asked that people be judged not by the “colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.” He imagined a world where “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

His speech is still remembered for the enormous impact that it had on the civil rights movement in the US. But it was far from his only contribution. During his lifetime King led countless protests against segregation in the US. He also campaigned fiercely against poverty and war in America.

He was assassinated in 1968, aged just 39. However, despite his short life he helped to bring about major legal changes, including the end of segregation and tough measures to allow black people to vote.

Today (January 20) is Martin Luther King Jr Day, a national holiday in the USA timed to coincide with King’s birthday.

What do you think he would have said about racism in the 21st century?

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Martin Luther King Jr did not change America by himself — this slideshow looks at the women of the civil rights movement who worked alongside him. Can one person change the world, or does it always take a movement?


  1. Martin Luther King once said “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” What do you think he meant by that? Do you agree? Discuss as a class.
  2. Write a news story on the current state of race relations in the USA.
  3. Write your own version of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream…” speech, about any issue you care about.