Former President Barack Obama at the White House with Ruby Bridges looking at Norman Rockwell's painting of her , The Problem We All Face.

Martin Luther King Day on the Web

Posted by Speakeasy News > Monday 16 January 2017 > Webpicks

These videos will help you discuss Martin Luther King Day in class.

The third Monday in January, close to MLK's birthday on the 15th, is a federal holiday and a day of service when citizens are encouraged to volunteer in their communities.

This 60-second Public Service Announcement for the day of service s simple – don't be put off by the first couple of sentences, by elderly civil-rights pioneers which are a little harder to understand. The rest is straightforward. The speech is in short, single sentences backed up with images and/or onscreen text. Usable from A2.

This is a series of teenagers talking about why they think it is important to volunteer on MLK Day. It's harder to understand, because there is a series of voices, but it's well worth persevering. It's excellent for a theme on citizenship or volunteering. From B1.

This is a wonderful document. Ruby Bridges was a civil-rights pioneer without choosing. At the age of six, she was one of girls who were the first ever to attend white schools in New Orleans. For an entire year she had to make her way through a hostile crowd screaming racist abuse to get into school. Once there, she was in a class of one, with the only teacher who accepted to teach a black child. Bridges' heartwarming account tells how that one teacher's actions convinced a six-year-old that you must never judge a person by the colour of their skin.

Bridges' experience was brought to international attention when she was the subject of a painting by Norman Rockwell, "The Problem We All Live With". The above photo shows Bridges visiting the White House and admiring the painting with President Obama, who had asked to have it on show in his residence.

Bridges' account is very clear with no background noise. Extracts could be used from A2+.

There is a summarised version of Ruby Bridges' interview in this general video about the day of service: 1'18-2'33

Telling Personal Stories to Keep History Alive
The wonderful organisation StoryCorps is an oral history archive. It allows any American who wants to to record a reminiscence or a conversation. Its site is a mine of stories that make listeners laugh and cry in equal measure.

For Martin Luther King Day 2018, StoryCorps proposed this short animation based on the moving account of Theresa Burroughs, explaining how it took her two years to finally obtain the right to register to vote as a teenager in 1940s Alabama. Usable from B1. Ms Burroughs' Southern accent may take a little getting used to for pupils, but the animation helps comprehension.

Another gem on a similar theme: an excellent photo story and audio account by a civil-rights activist Dion Diamond, who, as he describes, in 1960, "I was 15 years of age when I started having my own personal sit-ins," against segregation. The recording is beautifully clear and Mr Diamond speaks slowly. Usable from B1.


Articles for Class Use
SN_BRN_logoThere are articles about Martin Luther King in the Banque de ressources anglais cycle 4 appropriate for A1+, A2 and B1-level pupils. To see the resources, download them or use them online, register now or log in to the Banque de ressources anglais cycle 4 then go to:
Articles de presse > A1+, A2, B1 > Information, communication, citoyenneté > "Martin Luther King, an American Hero".

Webpicks Useful websites and online tools for classroom use
> African American History on the Web