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Martin Luther King Jr. Day in America

January 20 is a holiday in America.  It's the day America celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday! Although, he was actually born on January 15th.  

Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who used his words and other peaceful acts to change unfair rules or laws.

He spent his life helping African Americans get the same rights as other people.

Civil Rights

When Martin Luther King was alive, there were laws in Southern states that were unfair to African American people.

Black students could not go to school with white students.  African Americans were often not allowed to eat in the same restaurants or even drink out of the same water fountains as white people.

Martin Luther King Jr. thought these laws were wrong, and he led people to speak out for equality.  

Equality means that everyone is treated the same.

It took a long time for Dr. King and others to work for fair laws for African Americans.  This effort is called the Civil Rights Movement.

Martin's Life

  1. Martin was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia.

  2. Martin skipped two grades and went to college at age 15.

  3. Martin married Coretta Scott in 1953 and then became a minister.

  4. He and Coretta had 4 children.

  5. Martin led many peaceful Civil Rights actions for freedom, jobs, and racial equality.

  6. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for making change in peaceful ways instead of hurting others.

  7. In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin's Big Words

One of the most important parts of Dr. King's story is that he used words to solve problems.  

Many people around him thought that peaceful acts would never work to bring change, but Dr. King believed, and he was right.  

This book tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life. Listen to learn how he used big words to solve big problems.

Our Own Big Words

In our world, many try to live by Big Words, too. Our PRIDE words are words that we can use to help us make a difference at school, at work, at home, and out in the world. We can use these words to solve problems we see around us in a peaceful way, just like Dr. Martin Luther King!

For example:

  • We can show positivity by smiling at a person who is having a bad day.

  • We may be respectful to people who like different things than we do or look different than we do.

  • We can show integrity by standing up for others if someone is being rude to them.

  • We may be dependable by setting good examples for others in our life.

  • We can put effort into solving problems with words instead of hands.

Listening Quiz - Members only

Learn More about Martin Luther King Jr. as you practice English at


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