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King's World House

Martin Luther King Jr., Eutaw, AL 1966 people to people speaking tour;

 

Bob Fitch photography archive, © Stanford University Libraries

Instructions

In his speeches and writings, Martin Luther King, Jr., often talked about the interrelated and interdependent world, in which all people are linked together by common fate. His references to Beloved Community and World House captured his vision of connection and inclusion within human community.

King's visionary ideas go beyond his civil rights movement activism and leadership. His legacy extends to today's efforts to empower and include those who refuse being pushed to the margin of society. This portion of the lesson plan includes quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr., in which he addressed diversity and inclusiveness. Choose a quote and interpret its meaning. What did King say about diversity? What role did inclusion play for him? How does King's message relate to today's world?

 

[...] Something should remind us before we can finish eating breakfast in the morning we are dependent on more than half of the world. We get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for a sponge, and that's handed to us by a Pacific Islander. Then we reach over for a bar of soap, and that's given to us at the hands of a Frenchman. And then we reach up for our towel, and that's given to us by a Turk. And then we go to the kitchen for breakfast, getting ready to go to work. Maybe this morning we want to follow the good old American tradition, and we drink coffee. That's poured in our cups by a South American. Or maybe we are desirous of having tea. Then we discover that that's poured in our cup by a Chinese. Or maybe we want cocoa this morning, and then we discover that that's poured in our cup by a West African. Then we reach over for a piece of toast, only to discover that that's given to us at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And so before we finish eating breakfast in the morning we are dependent on more than half of the world. But this man didn't realize that. And any man who fails to see the interdependent structure of reality is really a fool.

The Man Who Was a Fool, Sermon Delivered at the Detroit Council of Churches' Noon Lenten Services.Martin Luther King, Jr., March 6, 1961.

Classroom activity:

Ask students to make a list of their belongings (or food). Where do these products come from? How did they get here? Using a world map, can you map out where your belongings came from? How are you connected to the rest of the world?
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Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

Letter from Birmingham Jail. Martin Luther King, April 16, 1963 

Classroom discussion:

What did King mean by saying "Injustice anywhere is a thread to justice everywhere"? How does injustice outside of our school/state/country impact us? 

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And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems. And I'm going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn't popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I'm not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I'm talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. I've seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I've seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South to want to hate, myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love.

[...]

Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home.

Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.

Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.

Let us be dissatisfied until men and women, however black they may be, will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not on the basis of the color of their skin. Let us be dissatisfied.
"Where Do We Go From Here?," Address Delivered at the Eleventh Annual SCLC Convention. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 16, 1967

Class discussion:

What kind of Love was King talking about? Why was King asking his audience to be dissatisfied? In today's world, what kind of inequalities must we be dissatisfied about?

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Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.

Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution. Martin Luther King, Jr., March 31, 1968

Classroom activity:

Using a blank piece of paper, ask students to design a picture of themselves with some of their important connections to others: it could be a photograph (with family/friends/sport team), or a drawing that represents the student and their connections. Ask each student to present their picture to the class. Then, make a collage out of all the pictures and discuss how we are all connected by sharing the same classroom/school/community.

 

 

Questions? Suggestions? Ideas?

Email us your comments and let us know about your experience with the LC lesson plans! Contact us at: King Institute Liberation Curriculum