Who is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for Kids?
Everyone has heard Martin Luther King Jr.'s quotes and speeches, but here are facts about MLK specifically for kids. You may even know facts about his parents and work during the civil rights movement, but did you know that Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy extends far outside of the borders of the United States. This information and activities on MLK for kids will help students to research, learn and teach others about MLK in ways that use their preferred method of learning.
I had heard of Martin Luther King Jr. before setting foot into the United States, but I really didn't understand how truly important he was or know enough MLK facts for kids. During lessons, at school in Jamaica on our 7 national heroes, he had been mentioned. My teachers told me he thanked one of our Jamaican heroes, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, for giving African Americans a sense of identity and belonging with the work he did.
I also learned that Martin Luther King Jr. was an excellent speaker, believed in non violence and was the leader of the American civil rights movement. All of these facts are important in helping kids understand the value and importance of MLK.
Fast forward to my first year as a teacher, in America, learning our curriculum and realizing that MLK, along with many other historical figures, would be part of the curriculum I would teach. To say I was excited was an understatement. I dove in and started learning about this instrumental historical figure. Here, I have collected several MLK facts for kids and created a personalized MLK playlist to help students learn about this monumental figure in history.
If you’re like me, you try to find learning experiences that are unique and not cookie cutter, ones that force children and people in general, to truly think, that address the standards they have to learn and that are excitable or fun, if possible. These MLK facts and assignments for kids do exactly that.
To create assignments that fit that bill, you have to possess more than a passing understanding of the topic, so here are some of the most important things and events that should be noted about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. along with an MLK assignment for kids that they'll love.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click and buy, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Please see my full disclosure policy for details.
If you scroll down in this post, below the preview of the MLK playlist assignment, you can click to download and receive my differentiated/personalized playlist assignment that you can used to ensure each of your students has mastered this curriculum standard. This resource also contains links to some of the best resources, practice games, activities on Martin Luther King Jr. for kids.
The activities will help students to show mastery of the social studies standard about Martin Luther King, which says that students will be able to describe the importance of key people, events and developments between 1950-1975, namely key events of the Civil Rights movement such as the Montgomery Buss Boycott and the March on Washington. They will also consider the effects of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination on the United States. While reading, researching and creating their products your students will become MLK experts, able to share MLK facts to kids and many others.
The personalized Martin Luther King Jr. playlist also gives students practice on the language arts standards about reading and understanding informational texts as well as writing informative, explanatory and opinion pieces. It is all wrapped up in a neat package to present MLK to kids.
Below, you will find Martin Luther King Jr. quotes, speeches, facts about his education, early life, wife, achievements, advocacy and work as a leader in the civil rights movement, a detailed combination of MLK facts for kids. This information will help students learn and master the Social Studies and Language Arts standards mentioned above and will help them to complete the Martin Luther King Jr. personalized activities (see a preview below). You will receive this MLK playlist for kids for free by clicking the download button above.
When is Martin Luther King Jr’s Actual Birthday?
Martin Luther King Jr.’s actual birthday is January 15, 1929. He was born in the house of his grandparents in Atlanta, Georgia. Martin Luther King Jr. day is celebrated on the 3 Monday in January yearly.
Why is Martin Luther King Jr. Important or What was Martin Luther King Jr. famous for ?
Martin Luther King Jr. is known as the leader of the civil rights movement. He is known as one of America’s great leaders because he spoke out and helped to change laws that were unfair to black Americans. To fully understand the role of MLK, let’s look at his life in bits.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Bio for Kids
Even early accounts of Martin Luther King Jr., celebrate the fact that he loved words. He was exposed to them in church as he read from the bible and his father preached, he heard them in stories by his grandmother and Aunt Ida and he read them in books.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Early Life for Kids
Martin Luther King Jr., affectionately called MLK, was the middle child. His older sister, Christine and younger brother Alfred Daniel were born and lived in the house of their grandparents, the Reverend and Mrs. A.D. Williams, with their Aunt Ida. King and his siblings were mostly raised by their grandmother and aunt due to busy work of his parents (his father was a preacher and his mother, a former teacher, was a musician).
Martin liked sports (basketball, football and basketball), riding his bicycle and singing in his father’s church with his sister and brother. The three children loved to play pranks and their favorite was to attach an authentic looking fur piece to a stick and move it around on the street while in hiding to scare people walking by.
One of Martin’s earliest experience with racism came when he was told that he could no longer play with some friends because they were white and he was black. The experience crushed a young Martin who didn’t understand what the color of his skin had to do with playing in his backyard. In Atlanta, where he lived, it was common to see “White Only” signs. Blacks were not allowed in some schools, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters or “picture shows” as they were called then, pools or parks.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Education for Kids
Martin Luther King Jr. was an extremely gifted learner. He learned to read at home before attending school at David T. Howard Elementary School. MLK completed high school in two years and started Morehouse College at the age of 15. Martin completed a bachelor of arts degree in sociology in 1948 and shortly after began to make speeches and work with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
He went on to attend Crozer Theological seminary in Pennsylvania. There, he learned about the beliefs and works of Mahatma Ghandi, who proposed to respond to problems peacefully. He completed a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951 and then a PhD in theology in 1955 from Boston University.
Martin Luther King Jr. Facts for Kids
Martin Luther King Jr’s Wife
Martin Luther King Jr. met his wife Coretta Scott King while working on his PhD from Boston University. They were married on June 18, 1953. Together they had four children: Yolanda Denise, Martin Luther III, Dexter Scott, and Bernice Albertine.
Martin Luther King Jr’s Assassination
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis Tennessee. He was there to help garbage collectors who were on strike to receive equal pay as their white coworkers when he was shot at the Lorraine Motel. He passed away an hour later.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Advocacy Work and Martin Luther King Jr.'s Role in the Civil Rights Movement
In 1955, when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat in the “Whites Only” section of the bus, Martin Luther King led a protest. For over a year, actually 381 days from December 5, 1955-December 21, 1956, blacks boycotted or refused to use, bus transportation.
Many were not pleased with the success of the boycotts ( it ended the use of the “White Only” sections on buses) and on January 30, 1956, segregationists or people who think that the separation of blacks and whites was appropriate, threw a bomb into his home. Even after this extreme act of violence, Martin Luther King Jr. asked his supporters to show love to their enemies and to not retaliate against those who had tried to harm him and his family.
In 1960, Martin Luther King Jr. had inspired so many that they started adopting his nonviolent style of protest and the first sit-in, a peaceful form of protest where people occupy and refuse to leave an area, happened in Greensboro, North Carolina.
In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. organized the Birmingham campaign, which led to outrage at the way the non-violent protesters were treated with the usage of dogs, water hoses and other acts of violence on national tv. Later that year MLK led the March on Washington.
At the Lincoln Memorial, he gave his powerful “I Have a Dream Speech” where he called for an end to segregation activities and beliefs, so that people would one day “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Achievements for Kids
Martin Luther King Jr. founded, in 1957, along with other civil rights activists, and was the president of, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (S.C.L.C.), a group which coordinated efforts of the civil rights movement until his assassination in 1968.
Recognized as the Times Man of the Year in 1963
1964 was a big year for Dr. Martin Luther King. On January 23, he was present as the poll tax elimination law for federal elections was signed and put into effect. On July 2nd, the Civil Rights Acts, prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations and jobs was also signed.
Then on December 10 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, one of the greatest achievements a person can attain. He was, at the time, the youngest person to ever receive the prize.
1965, saw more activism from King as he participated in the Selma protest movement from January to March. They was another huge victory on August 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act.
From 1965-1968, Martin Luther King Jr. worked to help with equal pay for many different groups.
(Here is a sample of the differentiated/personalized MLK playlist assignment that you can use with your upper elementary students. Click the link right below the sample to download the entire file.)
Stone of Hope in his memory: This memorial is in West Potomac Park and is a physical art work that represents a quote from his I have a Dream” speech. The quote says, “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Many people visit this monument to pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Speeches for Kids
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave many speeches, but his most famous is the “I Have a Dream speech that was delivered at the March on Washington.
Additional Educational Resources on Martin Luther King Jr. for Kids
Want to know more and see some of the documents Martin Luther King Jr. wrote or that were written about him? Need more facts for a report? These online resources have more information about MLK’s importance:
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Quotes for Kids
Martin Luther King was a very prolific speaker. He had a natural way with words that made people listen to him and do as he said. He is also famous for his quotes that still inspire and motivate. Here are some of his most celebrated quotes.
“You are as good as anyone.”
“Everyone can be great.”
“Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
“Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together.”
“When the history books are written, someone will say there live black people who had the courage to stand up for their rights.”