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Were My Dreams Realized? - Lesson Plan
President John F. Kennedy, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were among the political leaders of the 1960s who were assassinated. These leaders were known for their outstanding abilities to articulate their dreams and beliefs in their speeches. They were also famous for their perseverance and commitment to the issues for which they fought.
In this activity each student imagines he or she is one of these former leaders who has come back to visit. Ask students to think about what these leaders represented and to write a speech as if they were one of these leaders who has returned for a visit today. Students should talk about what has changed and what has remained the same since the 1960s. Which of their dreams were realized? Which were not? How did people carry out their wishes?
By learning about the leaders of the 1960s, reading and discussing the speeches they gave, thinking and talking about the times they lived in, comparing the 1960s to the present and preparing a speech from the perspective of one of the leaders, students will gain insight into the past, think about their present lives and increase their understanding of change.
- Students will be able to describe the lives and beliefs of these 1960s national figures.
- Students will write and deliver a speech.
- Students will analyze the past and its bearing on the future.
- Students will think about change over time.
Michigan Social Studies Curriculum Content Standards
This lesson presents an opportunity to address, in part, these MEAP standards:
- 6.1 IDENTIFYING AND ANALYZING ISSUES: Students will state an issue clearly as a question of public policy, trace the origins of the issue, analyze various perspectives people bring to the issue, and evaluate possible ways to resolve the issue.
- 6.3 PERSUASIVE WRITING: Students will compose coherent written essays that express a position on a public issue and justify the position with reasoned arguments.
Pencils, paper, note cards
Text of these speeches
Part I: Learn about a leader and analyze a speech
- Have students find out who President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were, what they stood for, what they believed in and what happened to them. Sources include the 1960s Links and References listed below.
- Then, locate these leaders' speeches either on the web (see list under Materials Needed) or check with your school media center for audio or visual presentations of these speeches.
- Have students read or listen to these speeches.
- Help them study and analyze these speeches to determine the main ideas. Discuss the speeches based on what the students have learned from reading and studying them.
Part II: Prepare a speech
- Have each student prepare a 3-5 minute speech from the point of view of one leader. (Refer to the Virtual Presentation Assistant or Toastmasters International for guidelines on speech writing.)
- Ask students to consider these questions when preparing their speeches as if they were the leaders today:
- What did the historic figure believe in?
- What were the 1960s like?
- What things did the leader want to change?
- Have these things changed?
- Are there things happening now that these leaders would want to change?
- Talk about how these leaders used words to excite people. Look for:
- repeated words
- words that paint pictures
- reference to specific people instead of general groups
- adjectives that convey emotion
- Let each student deliver his or her speech. The speeches should express and justify a position, not tell about the student's history research.
Questions for Discussion or Research
- What were the most important issues in the 1960s?
- Are there similar issues today?
- How have things changed since the 1960s?
- What changes would you favor today?
At the Museum
- In the 1960s gallery, find information about other people who tried to make the world a better place. Who among them are well-known on a state or national level? Who are "ordinary" people? How did each help in his or her own way?
- Find references in the gallery to projects that focused on improving the world, nation, state or local communities such as the Peace Corps, Detroit Renaissance Center project, and the 1st Michigan Goodwill Mission to Shiga. What other projects can you name that began during the 1960s?
- Civil Rights: The rights guaranteed to the individual by the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and by other acts of Congress; especially, the right to vote, exemption from involuntary servitude, and equal treatment of all people regarding enjoyment of life, liberty and property and to the protection of law.
- Inaugural Address: The speech a president of the United States gives when taking the oath of office in the year after the election at the beginning of a new term.
- Speech: Communicating thoughts and words through spoken words.
- Beckner, Chrisanne. 100 African-Americans Who Shaped American History. San Mateo, California: Bluewood Books, 1995.
- Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads. The Time Has Come, 1964-1966. Videocassette, 60 min. Produced, directed, and written by James A. DeVinney and Madison Davis Lacy, Jr. Boston, MA: Blackside, Inc.; Alexandria, VA: PBS Video.
- Friese, Kai. Rosa Parks, The Movement Organizes. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Silver Burdett Press, 1990.
- King, Martin Luther, Jr. I have a Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World. Glenview, Il: Scott Foresman, 1992.
- King, Martin Luther, Jr. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by James M. Washington. San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1986.
- King, Martin Luther, Jr. Why We Can't Wait. NY: Harper & Row. 1964.
- King, Martin Luther, Jr. The Wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr. NY: Meridian, 1993.
- Malcolm X Talks to Young People, Speeches in the US, Britain and Africa. Edited by Steve Clark, New York: Pathfinder, 1991.
- Rappaport, Doreen. Bryan Collier, illustrator. Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. NY: Hyperion, 2001. (ages 4-8)
- Representative American Speeches (The Reference Shelf Series, various editors). NY: H. W. Wilson Co. (Published annually since 1937, each volume contains texts of selected speeches from the year.)
- Rummel, Jack Malcolm X Militant Black Leader. Los Angeles, CA: Melrose Square Black American Series, 1988.
- Turner, Glennette Tilley Take a Walk in Their Shoes. Biographies of Fourteen Outstanding African-American With Skits About Each to Act Out. New York: Puffin Books, 1992.
- The Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University
- Westridge Young Writers Workshop. Kids Explore African-American Heritage. Santa Fe, New Mexico: John Muir Publications, 1993.
- Williams, Juan. Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965. NY: Viking, 1987.
Contact the Michigan Historical Museum.