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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: A Leader and a Hero


This video is for elementary school kids.  It was made by the Scholastic team.  The way context is provided is perfect for this age group.  They gently, yet honestly explain segregation. They also tell the students that Dr. King has passed, but do not go into detail, which may not be appropriate for younger kids, or may take away from the central message.  Unlike other videos, this video does not mention his religious background, instead, they choose to stay focused on his experience with racism and the steps he took to change the laws.

I really like this video for classes that need an introduction to who Dr. Martin King Jr. is, what he did, and why.  I hope, as students grow older, a deeper discussion around these topics can happen.  This is in no way a complete biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but it is a really strong starting point.  Below, we have provided a transcript of the video so you can decide if this video is a good fit for your class.  For a more thorough look into Dr. King, I recommend this one for older elementary or middle school students or this one for a more for a different perspective.  

Transcript

Dr. King was a leader and a hero. People all over the world know his face, they know his name. Now you will too. This is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and he was an American Hero. Dr. King was born in Atlanta Georgia on January 15, 1929, which was more than 90 years ago. When he was a kid, he loved riding his bike, playing baseball, and eating ice cream. Martin’s best friend was a boy who lived nearby but that changed one day when his friend told him they couldn’t play together anymore. His friend was white and Martin was black. His friend’s father didn’t want his son playing with a black child. This made Martin sad and angry. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t play with his friend. 


During that time there were laws in parts of our country that kept white people and black people apart. Keeping people apart like this is called segregation. The law said that black people and white people had to go to different schools, parks, and restaurants. The schools and parks for black people were often old and rundown. The schools and parks for white people had newer books and better playgrounds. In some states, black and white people were not allowed to use the same water fountains and bathrooms. Buses were segregated too. 

When Martin was all grown up, the laws hadn’t changed. He and many other people knew these laws were unfair and the laws made him very angry, but he was a peaceful man. He did not want to use violence to change the laws. So what did he do? Dr. King used his words. He wrote letters, newspaper articles, and even books. He wanted to persuade people to end segregation. 

He organized marches. He led big groups of people as they walked through the streets they all thought the laws were wrong. Other people saw these marches and began to ask themselves are these laws really fair? 

Dr. King also gave speeches. he spoke in front of thousands of people. In 1963, Dr. King gave his most famous speech at a big March in Washington DC. He talked about his dreams for the future. He said he believed that someday the world would be a better place. Dr. King’s words made people feel hopeful. When he spoke, the crowd cheered and clapped. Some people cried and hugged each other. They also believed the time had come for things to change. His dream helped other people dare to dream too. 

There were still some people who didn’t want the laws to change; they were angry with dr. King for trying to change them. They tried to hurt him and his family. That was scary, but Dr. King was brave. he didn’t let those people stop him. He kept working; he knew he was doing what was right. 

Dr. King was a great leader. He inspired many people. He made them feel brave and strong. He made them believe that together they could make a change. It can be hard for one person to change the world on his or her own, but when thousands of people work together they can make a big difference and they did! 

It took a long time but the laws of segregation did finally change. Dr. King’s leadership and hard work helped make the world a better place. Dr. King is no longer with us still, people remember him and continue his good work. We celebrate him every year in January on his birthday. On this day we take time to think about his life and what he did for our country, but you can celebrate him every day! You can spread his message of love peace and fairness by treating others with kindness and respect.

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