New Lesson Plans Connect King’s Legacy to Present Day Civil Rights Issues

By Patrick McNeil, Leadership Conference Communications Assistant

In celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday this month, the Anti-Defamation League released a new curriculum, titled “Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights: Relevancy for Today,” to provide students in grades 3-12 with the opportunity to explore civil rights – past and present – in the United States.

The curriculum connects the message of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to present day civil rights issues, namely voting rights. One middle level lesson, “The Struggle for Voting Rights,” is particularly relevant in light of last week’s bipartisan introduction of the Voting Rights Amendment Act. The lesson challenges students to consider modern discriminatory voting laws and the  impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s  Shelby County v. Holder decision on the Voting Rights Act. The secondary level lesson – “From I Have a Dream to Dreamers United: How Far Have We Come?” – also asks students to examine the history of the struggle for voting rights and to consider the impact of the Shelby decision.

The lesson plans also include an advocacy component, encouraging students to write a letter to their members of Congress that notes the importance of the Voting Rights Act, what’s happening across the country right now, and what they have learned in this particular lesson.  These plans also provide a link so that students can easily find their senators and representative.

To view the full curriculum, visit ADL’s website here.