English Language Institute
Technology Tip of the Month
January, 1998: Civil Rights in the US
by Deborah Healey
January in the US brings up several holidays. One that has grown in
prominence since it began in 1986 is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s
birthday, which is celebrated on the third Monday in January. There are a
great many sites on the Web related to Dr. King. The Tech Tip this month
will suggest specific classroom activities related to civil rights, with
a focus on Dr. King.
For some excellent links, see Suzan Moody's Martin Luther King, Jr.
Holiday pages at https://www.aec.ukans.edu/leo/holidays/kingday.html. Many of the links there are also in this Tech Tip.
- assassination (noun)
- The killing of an important political or religious person (verb: to
- boycott (verb, noun)
- To avoid buying a product or a service; not buying a product or
- busing (noun)
- Taking children to a school away from their neighborhood by bus,
rather than letting them go to school in their own neighborhood (verb: to
- civil rights (noun)
- The idea that a person must be allowed to have a job, rent a place to
live, and any other legal action without paying attention to their race,
color, or religion.
- demonstrate (verb)
- To gather a large group of people, usually with signs and banners, to
get the government or the public to do or stop doing something (noun:
- discriminate (verb)
- To select one person rather than another for an inappropriate reason,
such as by race, color, or religion (noun: discrimination)
- lunch counter (noun)
- A long, tall table in a public restaurant where many people sit to
- lynch (verb)
- To come as a group, kidnap someone, and kill that person, usually by
hanging. "Lynch mob" refers to that group of people. (noun: lynching)
- march (verb, noun)
- To walk as a group, usually with signs and banners; a walk in a
- non-violent resistance (noun)
- Behavior that is against the government or public policy but that
does not use violence against people
- prejudice (noun)
- The belief that one group is better than another for an inappropriate
reason, such as due to race, color, or religion
- protest (verb, noun)
- To argue publicly against a belief or government action
- repression (noun)
- Action by a group in power to keep those without power from having
any influence (verb: to repress)
Activities for getting background information
A Few Important People
Who are these people and what did they do? Look them up on the Web or in
an encyclopedia and summarize for the class. Try to find a photograph to
- Elijah Muhammad
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Malcolm X
- Rosa Parks
- Thurgood Marshall
A Few Important Groups
What did these groups do for the civil rights movement? Do any of them
still exist? If so, what do they do now? Look them up on the Web or in an
encyclopedia and summarize for the class.
- Black Panther Party
- NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
- Nation of Islam (Black Muslims)
- Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Times Martin Luther King, Jr. site has some of the best
educational links around. One of their sections has public service ads,
which are great discussion starters. I've put some questions for
discussion with one of my favorites, "Love is not
the answer, it's the assignment". This is a large image, so it may
take time to load on a slow connection. You may want to print it out.
There are a couple of timelines that may help put this holiday into
perspective. The Seattle
Times has one; Stanford
University's site for Dr. King has another.
There are a number of quotes from Dr. King at https://www.geocities.com/~wwwin/mlking.htm. Divide the class into groups; have each group explain a different quote. Advanced students can be asked to create paraphrases for the quotes. Since these are shor
ter, they're more usable by intermediate-level students than the whole speeches.
Here are a few that would be good for intermediate- to advanced-level
- Martin Luther King, Jr., The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967.
- A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on
military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching
- Martin Luther King, Jr., The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967.
- It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can
keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., Why We Can't Wait, 1964.
- If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't
fit to live.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., Wall Street Journal, November 13, 1962.
- Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate
cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate,
violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a
descending spiral of destruction.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.
- Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.
Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.
For listening practice, have students listen to some of Dr.
King's speeches at the Seattle Times
site or at theWebcorp site. (The
ones in wav format are for Windows machines, and RealAudio format will
work on both Mac and Windows machines.) A sample cloze for the Let
Freedom Ring selection at the Seattle Times site is below.
cross-platform version of the sound file; Windows
version of the sound file.)
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Students can check their answers at https://www.lib.grin.edu/resources/martin.html.
Let freedom __________ from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let ____________ ring from every _________ and every molehill of
___________ mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, _________ we let it
ring from every village and _________ hamlet, from every state and every
_________ , we will be able to speed up _________ day when all of God's
_________ , black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and
Catholics, will be able to _________ hands and sing in the _________ of
the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! _________ God
Almighty, we are free at last!
Yet another resource from the Seattle Times site is a quiz that
students can check online. This is best done after they've spent some
time with the history of Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement.
Advanced students who are doing research on Dr. King and the
Civil Rights movement should be looking at the Stanford University
site. This has the full text of several speeches, as well as a great
deal of supplementary information.
You may also want to add some of the other events going on at the time
related to Malcolm
X, the Nation of
Islam, and the Black
Panther Party. 1965 saw the assassination of Malcolm X and race riots
in the Watts district of Los Angeles. In 1967, a major Black Power
conference was held in Newark, New Jersey; later that year, riots broke
out in Cleveland, Newark, Seattle, and Detroit. Riots followed the death
of Dr. King in 1968. The violent side of US history is often left out of
information about Dr. King, and the focus kept on non-violent struggle.
Would Dr. King have had as much success without the threat of violence
from other groups if Dr. King's methods did not succeed?
You can listen to some of Malcolm X's speeches at the Webcorp site, https://www.webcorp.com/civilrights/mlk.htm.
Another excellent source of information about civil rights and human
rights action is a CD-ROM called Amnesty Interactive from Amnesty
International, sold by EduCorp and other mail order vendors. It puts the
civil rights action in the US in a global context.
If you have questions, comments, or for more information,
contact Deborah Healey, dhealey AT uoregon DOT edu
updated 26 June, 2009