In music class in 2nd grade we learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement through the songs mentioned in a book called “My Dream of Martin Luther King“ by Faith Ringgold published by Penguin Random House. Here’s the MLK Songsheet I distribute in class.
Learning about the Music of the Civil Rights Movement is important because (1) music can help people feel brave, (2) difficult feelings and thoughts can be set to music that can be shared and understood by all; and (3) Martin Luther King, Jr. used song lyrics in his speeches to help deliver his message (in music class we listen to the portion of his famous “I Have A Dream” speech that includes “America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)” and “Free At Last”). Students can then transfer this knowledge to their own lives, using music to feel brave, process difficult concepts and share feelings and thoughts.
Here are links to videos of some of the songs:
- “We Shall Overcome” sung by Joan Baez
- “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round”
- “Abraham, Martin & John” written by Dick Holler and sung by Dion (thanks to Miriam for the reminder)
- “The Dream of Martin Luther King” by Merle Gartrell
- “Shed A Little Light” by James Taylor sung by The Maccabeats and Naturally 7
- Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday”:
- Students also listen to a portion of the “I Have A Dream” speech beginning at 14:23 (here is the entire speech: http://www.viewpure.com/smEqnnklfYs)
- Kindergarten & 1st graders sing “Sing About Martin”
- MLK Songsheet