Published Online: January 16, 2008

MLK Day: Pay It Forward

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In honor of Martin Luther King’s birthday, Teaching Tolerance challenges educators to stray from convention. The Web site’s Do’s and Don’ts of Celebrating MLK Day provides teachers with tips on presenting King’s legacy in a critical, compelling and unconventional way.

Among the suggestions: DON’T overuse neatly-packaged, cookie-cutter or recycled discussions, activities, speeches or images of King. DO tackle the gritty issues of race beyond the black vs. white framework. DO use the opportunity to discuss the struggle against inequality, which drove King’s civil rights movement, by looking at issues of poverty, privilege and gender inequity.

Teachers can supplement the lessons with resources from Rights Matter: The Story of the Bill of Rights. This chronicle of America’s civil and political history includes activities designed to link the past with the present, including contrasting newspaper articles on topics like immigration policies; modernizing the bill of rights; and creating mock trials on civil rights violations.

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