Lesson Three - Courage
Martin Luther King, Jr.
(1929-1968)

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the age of 39. He died in the midst of a great battle--a battle for equality among all people, regardless of color or creed. For fourteen years, beginning at the age of 25, King fought courageously and tirelessly for the truths in which he believed. In 1964, at the age of 33, he was the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Martin Luther King stood in the face of anger, bigotry and injustice and had the courage to fight these opponents of freedom. He did not use anger or hatred when he battled against oppression, rather he used love and nonviolence. He learned the philosophy and practice of nonviolent resistance from the teachings of Jesus, Henry David Thoreau and Mahatma Ghandi.

Martin Luther King, Jr. gave speeches, led marches, went to jail several times, organized nonviolent demonstrations, and fought tirelessly for truth. Many of King's friends and fellow freedom-fighters were injured and killed. He always faced the threat of death, yet he marched on fearlessly towards that which he cared for more than all else: freedom. Martin Luther King, Jr. authored five books.

King is one of only two Americans whose birthday is observed as a national holiday. The nation's first president, George Washington, is the other

           

"Nonviolent resistance...is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice.
I am not willing to kill, but I am willing to die."

Discussion:

1. Explore the idea of nonviolent resistance. What does it mean?

2. Discuss Ghandi's use of nonviolent resistance in India's attainment of independence. Compare Ghandi's and King's use of nonviolent protest.

3. What is courage? Cite examples in daily living.

4. What ideals are worth living and dying for?

Activities:

1. Look through the current newspapers. Find a seeming injustice and theoretically conceptualize, create, and organize a nonviolent protest.

2. Role play various scenarios showing how truthfulness, honesty, and love do, in the end, win and achieve their aim: a better world. Use everyday experiences.

 

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