Martin Luther King Jr. Webquest


Throughout history, the education of young children has been impacted by varied persepctives regarding teaching and learning. This Background lesson on Martin Luther King Jr. will lead students on a journey that starts with their first impressions of King and takes them through his childhood, key events of The Civil Rights Movement, King's most famous speeches, his sudden and tragic assassination that left America in mourning, and finally, to his memorial in Washington D.C.



Martin Luther King, Jr., is born in Atlanta to teacher Alberta King and Baptist minister Michael Luther King. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to raise the public consciousness of racism, to end racial discrimination and segregation in the United States. While his goal was racial equality, King plotted out a series of smaller objectives that involved local grassroots campaigns for equal rights for African Americans.


Graduates high school at age 15, enters Morehouse College shortly thereafter in 1948.

Receives BA in sociology from Morehouse College at age 19 in 1948.

Receives degree from Crozer Theological Seminary (Chester, Pa.), enrolls in Boston University Ph.D program in 1951.


Marries New England Conservatory music student Coretta Scott; they eventually have four children in 1953.


Becomes minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama in 1954

Receives Ph.D in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955

The 26-year-old King leads boycott of segregated Montgomery buses, gains national reputation in 1955.

King's house is bombed

U.S. Supreme Court ruling prompts Montgomery to desegregate buses in 1956.

King helps found Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957.

Writes Stride Toward Freedom, about the bus boycott in 1958.

Visits India to study nonviolence and civil disobedience in 1959


Joins his father as co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in 1960.



King is arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham; writes Letter From Birmingham City Jail, arguing that individuals have the moral duty to disobey unjust. laws

Delivers "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington attended by 200,000 protesters, creates powerful image, builds momentum for civil rights legislation in 1963.

Publishes Why We Can't Wait

Congress passes Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing segregation in public accommodations and discrimination in education and employment.

King receives Nobel Peace Prize in 1965.

King and SCLC join voting-rights march from Selma to Montgomery; police beat and tear gas marchers; King addresses rally before state capitol, builds support for voting rights.

Congress passes Voting Rights Act of 1965, which suspends (later bans) literacy tests and other restrictions to prevent blacks from voting in 1965. 

Growing popularity of the black power movement, blacks stressing self-reliance and self-defense, indicates King's influence was declining, especially among young blacks.


King turns toward economic issues; SCLC moves civil rights struggle to the North; opens Chicago office to organize protests against housing and employment discrimination.

King plans Poor People's Campaign; advocates redistribution of wealth to eradicate black poverty.

Publishes Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

King is assassinated in Memphis, during visit to support striking black garbage collectors; violent riots erupt in more than 100 U.S. cities.