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I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Identity

45 min

Walk-In-The-Shoes Questions
As you read, imagine you are the protagonist.

  • What challenges are you facing?
  • What fears or concerns might you have?
  • What may prevent you from acting in the way you ought?

Observation Questions

  • King referred to the equality principle as an IOU note, saying, “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note as far as her citizens of color are concerned.” A promissory note is similar to an “IOU,” or promise to pay a debt. If someone promised to pay a debt he/she owed you, but never did so, how did you address the situation? Or, how do you think the unpaid debt should be addressed? Compare this debt scenario to that described by King.
  • What contributions did Martin Luther King make to the advancement of freedom through his approach to understanding both his own identity and the best ideals of the American identity?
  • In what ways did King’s experiences as a target of discrimination contribute to his ability to fight for the freedom of others?

Discussion Questions
Discuss the following questions with your students.

  • What is the historical context of the narrative?
  • What historical circumstances presented a challenge to the protagonist?
  • How and why did the individual exhibit a moral and/or civic virtue in facing and overcoming the challenge?
  • How did the exercise of the virtue benefit civil society?
  • How might exercise of the virtue benefit the protagonist?
  • What might the exercise of the virtue cost the protagonist?
  • Would you react the same under similar circumstances? Why or why not?
  • How can you act similarly in your own life? What obstacles must you overcome in order to do so?
  • Students will understand how Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged the prejudice, discrimination, and racial injustice of his times in mid-twentieth-century America.
  • Students will analyze their own actions, goals, and ambitions to determine how identity contributes to the achievement of worthy goals.

Student Handouts