Martin Luther King, Jr. Receives the Nobel Peace Prize Lesson

  • Story entitled Martin Luther King, Jr. Receives the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Picture of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Literal and Interpretive Questions

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Receives the Nobel Peace Prize takes the students back to the moment when Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Quote 1: "Some few spectators, who had not been trained in the discipline of nonviolence, reacted to the brutality of the policemen by throwing rocks and bottles. But the demonstrators remained nonviolent. In the face of this resolution and bravery, the moral conscience of the nation was deeply stirred..." –Martin Luther King, Jr. (May 4, 1963)

    Quote 2: "Even the most casual observer can see that the South has marvelous possibilities. It is rich in natural resources, blessed with the beauties of nature and endowed with a native warmth of spirit. Yet in spite of these assets, it is retarded by a blight that debilitates not only the Negro but also the white man.... Segregation has placed the whole South socially, educationally, and economically behind the rest of the nation." –Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Interview a person who lived during Martin Luther King's civil rights movement. What was his or her reaction to the nonviolent protests led by Reverend King? Even if the person was a child at the time, he or she can give unique insight into the era.


  • Introduce key vocabulary: Nobel Peace Prize, Oslo, Norway, Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Word-origin study:
  • undaunted: The original meaning of the word daunt was "to tame or subdue." The prefix un- means "not." If you are undaunted in your beliefs, your opinion cannot be changed, tamed, or subdued.
  • nonviolent: The prefix non- means "not." If you practice nonviolence, you resolve your disputes through avenues that are not injurious or violent.

    Objective: The students will listen to Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. They will discuss the content and meaning of the speech.
  • Display and discuss the quotes of the week. Continue to display the quotes in a prominent location throughout the week.
  • Before showing the video, discuss recent protests that the students have observed locally, nationally, and internationally. Were the protests violent or nonviolent? How effective were the protests? Do the students think the protestors will get what they want? Why do they feel this way?
  • Show the video A Day to Remember: August 28, 1963 or listen to the audio cassette Great Speeches of the 20th Century, paying close attention to the "I Have a Dream" speech. Discuss the text of the speech. Finally, guide the students as they look for the meaning within the words.

    Objective: The students will gain insight to Reverend King's civil rights movement from someone who was involved in, or a witness to, the movement.

    Invite a witness to Reverend King's civil rights movement to class. Before the speaker arrives, help the students prepare interview questions. Include literal and interpretive questions. Write the questions on chart paper and display the chart at the front of the room. Give the speaker a list of the questions so that he or she can prepare. After the discussion encourage the students to ask impromptu questions.

    Story Lesson
    "The title of the story we're reading today is 'Martin Luther King, Jr. Receives the Nobel Peace Prize.' As you read the article, try to visualize the time in which the event occurred. What do you think the story is about? What do you already know about Martin Luther King, Jr.?"
    Literal and Interpretive Questions

    1. Students review Quote 2 from the Quotes of the Week. "What did Martin Luther King mean when he said, 'Yet in spite of these assets, it (the South) is retarded by a blight that debilitates not only the Negro but also the white man...'? How does segregation retard the marvelous possibilities of those being denied access as well as those prohibiting access to others?"

    Discuss the current trend of "self-segregation." Although all races work together in the classroom, do students tend to group with their own race during lunch? Why does this happen? Why does it not happen at your school? Are the students and the school enriched by this behavior or, as Reverend King stated, are all students' and the school's "marvelous possibilities" retarded by this behavior?

    2. Ask each student to bring in an article or write a summary of an article dealing with self-segregation. Review the articles using Quote 2 as a guide for the discussion.

    3. Ask the students to voluntarily mix with other racial groups during lunch breaks for one week. Pair black students with white, Asians with Hispanics, and so on. What did the students learn from the experience? How did they feel at the beginning of the week? How did they feel at the end?

    Darby, Jean. Martin Luther King, Jr. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co., 1990.
    Davidson, Margaret. I Have a Dream: The Story of Martin Luther King. New York: Scholastic, 1986.
    Davis, Ossie. Just Like Martin. New York: Simon Schuster, 1992.
    Fairclough, Adam. Martin Luther King, Jr. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995.
    Friedly, Michael. Martin Luther King, Jr.: The FBI File. New York: Carroll Graf, 1993.
    Jakoubek, Robert. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Black Americans of Achievement Series. New York: Chelsea, 1990.
    Kallen, Stuart A. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Man and His Dream. Edina: Abdo Daughters, 1993.
    King, Martin Luther, Jr. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Companion: Quotations from the Speeches, Essays, and Books of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: St. Martins Press, 1993.
    ———. The Measure of Man. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1988.
    ———. Strength to Love. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1981.
    ———. Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. New York: Harper, 1989.
    ———. The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: New Market, 1987.
    Levine, Ellen. If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King. New York: Scholastic, 1990.
    Lischer, Richard. The Preacher King: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Word That Moved America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
    Moore, Yvette. Freedom Songs. New York: Orchard Books, 1991.
    Patterson, Lillie. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Freedom Movement. New York: Facts on File, 1989.
    Ray, James Earl. Who Killed Martin Luther King?: The True Story by the Alleged Assassin. Washington, DC: National Press Books, 1992.
    Shuker, Nancy F. Martin Luther King Jr.: World Leaders Past and Present Series. New York: Chelsea, 1985.

    A Day to Remember: August 28, 1963. Arlington, VA: PAS Video, 1989.
    Fabian, Rhonda. African American Life. Bala Cynwyd, PA: Schlessinger Video Productions, 1996.
    Kaplan, Richard. Legacy of a Dream. Oak Forest, IL: MPI Home Video, 1990.
    King, Montgomery to Memphis. Beverly Hills, CA: Pacific Arts Video, 1988.
    Martin Luther King: Commemorative Collection. Oak Forest, IL: MPI Home Video, 1988.

    Copage, Eric V. Black Pearls: Daily Meditations (Cassette). New York: Harper Audio, 1994.
    Great Speeches of the 20th Century (Cassette). Santa Monica, CA: Rhino Word Beat, 1991.

  • Excerpted from Reading Stories for Comprehension Success.

    Present this lesson plan to teach students about when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize. This is an excellent activity to enjoy for Martin Luther King Day in January, or Black History Month in February.
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