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Part Two: The History of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X


  1. The next step in this lesson involves researching the lives of King and X before they became national figures. How teachers approach this section depends on both time and resources. Ideally, students would have the opportunity to read the relevant chapters in both autobiographies. However, if time and/or resources do not allow for students to work with the two books, have students read Clayborne Carson’s article “The Unfinished Dialogue” and visit the King Encyclopedia where they can access a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.  

  2. Have students work in groups of 2-3 with the article and autobiographies, and list the five major events in each man’s life that they believe helped shape their role in the African American Freedom Struggle. Students should consider areas such as family, religion, education, and experience with whites growing up.

  3. After the students complete their lists, bring the class together to share what they found, and write the events on the board. Then, as a class, try to reduce the larger list down to the five most important events.