Speaking Up for What's Right

Speaking Up for What's Right lesson plan

This powerful diorama pays tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrate his historic civil rights speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

  • 1.

    Not very long ago, laws in the United States did not give African Americans the same rights and privileges as other people. Although African Americans had fought in wars to protect the country and paid taxes to the U.S. government, they were not allowed to travel, go to school, eat, work, or live wherever they wished. Many events helped to galvanize African Americans and civil rights advocates to act to change these discriminatory laws.

  • 2.

    The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., became one of the most well-known leaders of the civil rights movement. He introduced the notion of nonviolent protest to the cause and led thousands of people to show their support in peaceful ways. Where did King get this idea for nonviolent protest? Why did he think this political strategy would work in the United States?

  • 3.

    Dr. King was the keynote speaker at the largest demonstration for human rights in the country. He led the Civil Rights March of 1963 through Washington, D.C., to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. There, before 250,000 people, King gave what is now called his "I Have A Dream" speech. Research the setting and content of his speech. Why do you think it is so memorable?

  • 4.

    King chose a powerful place to talk about freedom---at the feet of a famous statue of President Lincoln! Find a picture of the Lincoln Memorial and the Mall that spreads before it. Using white Crayola® Model Magic, construct the Lincoln Memorial, complete with its columns and front steps. Sculpt the statue of Lincoln inside the building. Dry.

  • 5.

    Using Crayola Scissors, cut the top off a recycled tissue box. Cut down the sides and flatten. With Crayola Construction Paper Crayons, illustrate the area around the Lincoln Memorial. Rub crayons over the box for a textured background.

  • 6.

    Draw construction paper shapes of people and trees and attach with Crayola School Glue. Cut blue construction paper and glue it under the flattened box to make the Reflecting Pool.

  • 7.

    On a recycled file folder, cut out a figure of Martin Luther King, Jr., standing at the podium speaking about his dream for the United States. Use Crayola Multicultural Markers to add detail to his imposing figure. Glue to the steps of monument. Cut out p

  • 8.

    Present your diorama and discuss King's closing words: "Free at last, free at last, Thank God, I am free at last!" Do you believe that his dream has come true?


  • Students gather information about the history of the civil rights movement in the United States in the mid-1900s.
  • Students research the political roles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and analyze his memorable "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Students represent the scene in a diorama of Washington, D.C., at this turning point for the civil rights movement and U.S. history.


  • King's speech contained many eloquent lines. Read the entire speech and memorize the passages about "Let Freedom Ring" and "Free At Last." Recite the entire speech with students, including those with special needs, presenting different parts.
  • For older students, discuss an ironic aspect of the March on Washington. At this protest against racial discrimination, the wives of its leaders were not allowed to march with their husbands, but were assigned to lead a separate procession on another rout
  • Students find out if their family members or neighbors participated in the March. Interview them about their experiences.
  • Gather information and ideas about civil rights issues today. What issues have changed? Which ones remain of concern?