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Liberation Curriculum

King escorts children to their newly integrated school, 20 September 1965. King has hands on the shoulders of two black girls as they walk.

King and Andy Young escort children to their newly integrated school in Grenada, Mississippi, 20 September 1965

© Corbis/Bettmann

The King Institute's Liberation Curriculum provides document-based lesson plans, online educational resources, and historical materials pertaining to the modern African American Freedom Struggle and King's vision of a just and peaceful world. Currently directed by Dr. Mira S. Foster, this educational initiative seeks to transform the way students aquire and apply knowledge about the past. 

The Global Vision of the Liberation Curriculum 

"We have inherited a large house, a great 'world house' in which we have to live together—black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Moslem and Hindu—a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace." 
The World House, From: Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community, Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967

The Liberation Curriculum is a collection of free and universally accessible lesson plans developed for students (of all ages) interested in exploring global, nonviolent struggles for freedom and equality. The Curriculum is inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s concept of the World House. In his last book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, published in 1967, King painted a picture of a world in which people of various ethnic, ideological, and religious backgrounds have to live together. They must learn to respect their differences and to act justly in order to ensure peaceful coexistence. Moreover, King also observed that humanity is interrelated and connected, "tied in a single garment of destiny," and so "whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." 

We, the authors of the Liberation Curriculum, believe that the purpose of education is to provide answers for how to best honor our differences, strengthen our connections, and live together in peace. Our mission is to design teaching materials that critically engage students with the past and prepare them to challenge injustice and live together peacefully as global citizens. 

We accomplish our mission by critically analyzing the life and work of King and the achievements of civil rights activists through primary and secondary documents. Through the study of King's speeches and writings, students engage with the timeless ethical, philosophical, and spiritual ideals that influenced the civil rights and many other freedom movements. 

In lesson plans focusing on “Diversity and Inclusion,” “The Power of Nonviolence,” and “Love and Faith,” fundamental moral principles take center stage in classroom discussion, highlighting the struggles, accomplishments, and courage of ordinary people. Historical protests, strikes, and marches were initiated and sustained by children, students, workers, and local grassroots activists. Stories of passengers who protested discrimination by refusing to board segregated buses become the focus of the lesson plan on the “Montgomery Bus Boycott.” Watching students challenge segregated schools, or participate in sit-ins at lunch counters to protest racism, inspires students to stand up for justice themselves.

Our approach to education goes beyond teaching historical knowledge and job-related skills. Empathy, connection to the past and present, and active civic engagement are crucial to a just and peaceful future. By connecting what may seem like singular human experiences to a larger narrative of struggles for justice, our educational goal is to equip students with the tools to build King’s “World House.”

Education is a fundamental human right, not a privilege. We are committed to offering our educational resources free of charge and easily accessible on our website. With this online curriculum built around exceptional primary sources, students will begin to see the world not just as a neighborhood but also as a brother- and sisterhood.

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Classroom Resources

Our classroom resources draw upon the research and writings of the King Paper's Project and King Institute staff and are intended for educators, teachers, and students from grades K through college.

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Testimonials for the Teacher's Workshops

The King Institute has offered professional development workshops for educators. The workshops help teachers design lesson plans on the life and legacy of Dr. King and the ongoing struggle for freedom. Educators have responded positively to this opportunity, and more workshops are being planned for the future.

"I have modified one of the activities you shared with us for my IB Environmental Systems course as a final review activity (Action Letter to the appropriate school or governmental official) and they are turning out great! One student is even writing to the mayor of Mexico City to address urban air pollution. Thanks for inspiring me to help create global citizens!"

Jessica Magallanes, Instructor in IB Environmental Systems at Sequoia High School