Martin Luther King, Jr. Vocabulary

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Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister and prominent civil rights activist, was born on January 15, 1929. At birth, his parents named him Michael King, Jr. However, King’s father, Michael King Sr. later changed his name to Martin Luther King in honor of the Protestant religious leader. His son, Martin Luther King, Jr. followed his father’s lead and changed his name as well.

In 1953, King married Coretta Scott and together they had four children. Martin Luther King, Jr. earned a doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955.

In the late 1950’s, King became a leader in the civil rights movement working to end segregation. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech to more than 200,000 people at the March on Washington.

Dr. King advocated non-violent protests and shared his belief and hope that all people could be treated as equals regardless of their race. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Tragically, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated four years later on April 4, 1968.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill designating the third Monday in January as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday honoring Dr. King. Many people celebrate the holiday by volunteering in their communities as a way of honoring the civil rights leader by giving back. 

If you want to honor Dr. King on this holiday, try ideas such as:

  • serve in your community
  • read a biography about Dr. King
  • choose one of his speeches or a quote and write about what it means to you
  • create a timeline of the important events in his life

If you are a teacher who wants to share Martin Luther King, Jr’s legacy with your young students, the following printouts can be helpful.

By Beverly Hernandez for

Use this activity to introduce students to Martin Luther King, Jr. Students will use a dictionary or the Internet to define words related to Dr. King. They will write each word on the line next to its correct definition.

Source: 8 Printout Activities for Martin Luther King Day (

Author: Dennis Hickey

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