Essay questions for i have a dream speech

Essay questions for i have a dream speech

Essay questions for i have a dream speech

Questions on the speech ‘I have a dream’

Why does King chose the word DREAM?

I think there are various reasons why Martin Luther King chose to use this word and repeat it as a leitmotiv. Firstly, as the opening lines clearly show, it is a direct reference to the American Dream itself in which most Americans believe: a dream where people have access to a high standard of living and a decent way of life. Secondly, the idyllic situation he describes for the Blacks in America stands in contrast with the reality they have known for centuries and even the reality of the 1960’s. Compared with this ideal, their existence is but a nightmare. Last but not least, to dream is one of the last thing left to a man when he is desperate. What does h e dream of? He dreams of a time and place where his fellowmen will no longer be segregated, prejudiced against or treated as inferiors. He wishes the blacks and the whites were really equal, he wishes they shared the same rights in America.

Why does he quote the ‘Declaration of Independence’?

I think Martin Luther King quotes the ‘Declaration of Independence’ because this important turning point in the history of the American nation means a lot to all its citizens. All the Americans know this text and most of them respect it. In a nation which has fought for its independence in the past ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal’ makes it illegal to segregate people. The word independence itself could be applied to the blacks in America. It echoes the word emancipation used after the Secession War. These words sound ironical in his mouth if we consider the situation of the blacks at the time of King’s speech. To take up George Orwell famous line, we could say that in America ‘some are more equal than others’.

Why does he mention many different places, religions, types of people?

Mentioning many different places, religions, and types of people gives to his message a sort of universal scope: in his speech, Martin Luther King addresses all the citizens of the world, and more particularly his fellow countrymen. His audience should not be limited to the blacks present in Washington for that special event. Besides, the message he wants to pass on is that all the people living in this world are ‘ God’s children ‘, in other words equals.

Would you say his message is realistic or idealistic?

In my opinion, some aspects of his message are very realistic while others, the major part, are idealistic. What is realistic here is the description he makes of the Blacks’ past and present. In his opinion Black people have always been treated as slaves, and it is still true in some American states. I quote ‘a state sweltering with the heat of injustice’ and ‘a mountain of despair’. Now, what is idealistic is the hoped-for situation he would like to see in his country: he dreams of the day when his ‘four little children will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character’. Considering the troubled times of the Civil Rights Movement in 1960’s America, we realise much faith and determination are necessary if we want this dream to become true. However, the overall tone of the speech is optimism.

In your opinion, has King’s dream become true in today’s America?

More than thirty years have passed since the day Martin Luther King delivered his famous speech in Washington. We may wonder whether the dream he had then has become true. Optimistic people would say much has been achieved since then: the blacks can vote, segregation has become illegal in the South, black people enjoy more freedom than three decades ago. On the other hand, a pessimistic (realistic?) person would say not much has changed: for many people, the Blacks are still discriminated against, in spite of some famous black’s success-stories. In my opinion, many things can still be improved upon as concerns real equality between races in today’s USA.

61 Prompts to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

Write About Martin Luther King

Journal Prompts for students that honor Martin Luther King, Jr.— While you’re teaching your students about Martin Luther King this January, engage them further by pushing them to learn more about him, his life and his legacy. With these new kids writing prompts, students will expand their understanding of Dr King and deepen their respect for his work and its lasting effect on humanity.

Kids Writing 61 Prompts about Dr. King, Jr.

  1. Who is Martin Luther King, Jr?
  2. Why is there a national holiday in the United States to celebrate Martin Luther King?
  3. What is it that we celebrate about Martin Luther King, Jr?
  4. What do you know about Dr King?
  5. Where did you learn about him?
  6. What made his “I have a Dream” speech so historic?
  7. What is his dream?
  8. How does MLK’s dream continue on to this day?
  9. What does racial equality mean?
  10. Would you be a non-violent leader? Why or why not?
  11. Would you go to jail for a cause you believe in? Why or why not?
  12. Would you suffer violence for a cause? Why or why not?
  13. Would you continue on with your cause even if it meant you might die? Why or why not?
  14. Can you use non-violence tactics in your school to create positive change? How so?
  15. How did Dr. King influence people?
  16. What is the Nobel peace prize?
  17. What does it mean to be awarded the Nobel peace prize?
  18. Why was Martin Luther King awarded the Nobel peace prize?
  19. Why is peace important?
  20. MLK is the only non-president to have a national holiday dedicated in his honor. Why do you think this is so?
  21. Would you like to visit the Dr King memorial on the Great Mall in our nation’s capital? Why?
  22. What were some of Dr King’s greatest achievements?
  23. What are civil rights?
  24. Why do civil rights even matter?
  25. What would the world be like without civil rights?
  26. How do civil rights benefit you?
  27. What is the Civil Rights Act?
  28. Imagine that you have no civil rights. What does your life look like? How do you feel?
  29. What is racism?
  30. How does racism affect people?
  31. How does racism affect you?
  32. Why is Dr King so beloved by the African-American community around the world?
  33. What does the phrase “Beloved Community” mean?
  34. What does the phrase “Beloved Community” mean to you?
  35. Create a timeline of important dates in the life of Dr King.
  36. “I have a dream today” is a famous line from Dr King’s speech. What is your dream?
  37. Why is it important to dream of change?
  38. What if Dr King hadn’t dreamed of change?
  39. What if Martin Luther King Jr dreamed of violent rather than non-violent change?
  40. Do you dream of change? Describe it.
  41. What words best describe Martin Luther King?
  42. What is segregation?
  43. What if your school was segregated?
  44. Imagine a world of peace and no war. Describe it in detail.
  45. What is poverty?
  46. How does poverty affect people?
  47. How does poverty affect a nation?
  48. Imagine a world without poverty. What does it look like?
  49. How/why was Martin Luther King’s use of nonviolence so effective in creating lasting social change?
  50. What is social change?
  51. What is social justice?
  52. What is economic justice?
  53. What is justice?
  54. What does justice mean to you?
  55. How will you celebrate Dr King Day?
  56. Why is it important to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr?
  57. How does your community celebrate MLK Day?
  58. How does your school celebrate Martin Luther King?
  59. How does your family celebrate Dr King?
  60. What would Dr King say to you if you could meet him?
  61. What would you say to Dr King?

Having students journal about this important topic is a great way to get them thinking critically about the subjects of nonviolent social change, civil rights, racism, poverty, beloved community, freedom, justice, and equality.

Here are some useful links on Martin Luther King and MLK Day:

Ten Writing Prompts for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an entire day dedicated to celebrating the birthday of one of the most beloved civil rights activists in history.

One way for teachers to encourage their students to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is through writing prompts. Education World has gathered a list of writing prompts teachers can use in the classroom to remember Martin Luther King, Jr.

Journal Buddies: This site offers 61 writing prompt ideas to use on Marting Luther King, Jr. Day:

  1. Would you be a non-violent leader? Why or why not?
  2. Why is peace important?
  3. How does racism effect people? How does it effect you?

The Holiday Zone: Students can tackle more complicated issues with this list of writing prompts:

  1. Make a list of ten things that you can do to make the world a better place
  2. Write a paragraph explaining how discrimination and prejudice impact our world today
  3. Pretend that you had an opportunity to interview Dr. King. Write out five questions that you would like to ask him.

Students can watch Martin Luther King, Jr.’s «I Have a Dream Speech», and write a prompt afterwards. This site offers different prompts for grades K-12. Here’s the prompt for K-2 and 3-5:

  1. Martin Luther King Jr. is sharing his dream for what the world should be like. His dream was to have a fair, peaceful world where everyone is equal to one another. What would your dream world be like?
  2. Martin Luther King Jr. used several common writing techniques in his famous speech. Identify an example of each of the following writing techniques from the «I Have a Dream» Speech. You can refer to the full text of the speech for review:
  • Simile
  • Repetition / Anaphora
  • Analogy
  • Quotes / Allusions
  • Metaphor

Using figurative language, Dr. King identifies clear, concrete goals he hopes this speech will help achieve. Identify at least one of those goals.

  1. What does it mean to «do the right thing?» Why do you think some people choose to do the easy thing as opposed to the right thing?
  2. Why do you think segregation is wrong? How would you try to convince someone in support of segregation that it was not fair? Would you be successful? Why or why not?

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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