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Classroom Games: MLK Human Rights Lesson: Top 12 Quotes

Annie Condron

Martin Luther King Lesson PlansMatch the human rights activists to their inspirational words in this instance of classroom games.  Then use the quotes to foster classroom discussion! 

1.  A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.

2.  If you're going to hold someone down you're going to have to hold on by the other end of the chain. You are confined by your own repression.

3.  This is the duty of our generation as we enter the twenty-first century -- solidarity with the weak, the persecuted, the lonely, the sick, and those in despair. It is expressed by the desire to give a noble and humanizing meaning to a community in which all members will define themselves not by their own identity but by that of others.

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4.  Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.

5.  Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.

6.  You must be the change you want to see in the world.

7.  Throughout my years in political life, I have seen extraordinary courage and fortitude by individual men and women, innocent victims of violence. Amid shattered lives, a quiet heroism has born silent rebuke to the evil that violence represents, to the carnage and waste of violence, to its ultimate futility.

8.  I have encountered riotous mobs and have been hung in effigy, but my motto is: Men's rights are nothing more. Women's rights are nothing less.

9.  I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

10.  I'd like there to be less refugees. I'd like all girls to go to school. That's what we need to be thinking about, and working on making our own families good and strong and our own kids happy.

11.  In the past, I came here as the freedom fighter - a black South African denied the vote in my own country. But today, I speak to you as a representative of our nation; as the head of the first ever democratic government in South Africa. The victory of democracy in our country is a victory of the American people, as well, because you took up South Africa's struggle as your own. You did so in the full understanding that the American dream is a dream that all the world's people deserve; that a new world is in the making in which humanity should be united in its diversity of race, gender, language and religion.

12.  Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.

Activist Bank

A. Kofi Annan – Ghanaian diplomat and seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations.  Annan and the United Nations were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for their fight for universal equality, tolerance and human rights around the world.

B.  Susan B. Anthony – lifelong human rights advocate, fought on behalf of anti-slavery and temperance movements before the Civil War and then as founder of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and lifelong advocate for women’s rights.

C.  Angelina Jolie – award-winning American actress and Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency.  Jolie uses her fame to promote humanitarian causes throughout the world.

D.  His Holiness the Dalai Lama – Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is the spiritual and political leader of Tibet.  Currently governing in exile from India, he is the first Dalai Lama to visit the west to spread Buddhist teachings and his message of nonviolence and interfaith harmony.  He was awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.

E.  Mahatma Gandhi – spiritual and political leader of India and the Indian independence movement.  Gandhi is best known for his non-violent approach to change grounded in civil disobedience, beginning with the South African civil rights movement.  His work has inspired peaceful movements dedicated to civil rights and freedom around the world.  He is celebrated with a national holiday in India and worldwide through the International Day of Nonviolence.

F.  John Hume – former politician in Northern Ireland.  Hume was an instrumental part of the Northern Ireland peace process, a co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize, with David Trimble, a recipient of the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award, and the only recipient of the three major peace awards.

G.  Martin Luther King, Jr. – African-American minister and civil rights activist who led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the 1963 March on Washington.  He is most commonly remembered for his “I have a dream” speech.  He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and has an American national holiday in his honor.

H.  John Lennon – world famous English musician, member of the Beatles and outspoken peace activist. He and wife Yoko Ono staged a “Bed-in for Peace” where they recorded “Give Peace a Chance.”

I.  Nelson Mandela – After spending 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activism, Mandela became the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election.  He has received more than 100 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

J.  Toni Morrison – the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.  Morrison is an editor, author and professor who has been influential in bringing the work of black authors to mainstream audiences.  Her best known works are Beloved, The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon. 

K.  Eleanor Roosevelt – Best known as First Lady to husband Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor was also a noted activist, teacher, author, speaker, social worker, and diplomat for women’s rights and the New Deal coalition.

L.  Elie Wiesel – author of the memoir Night, depicting his Holocaust experience, and 56 other books.  Wiesel is also a professor, 1986 Nobel Laureate, and political activist who continues to share his experience as a Holocaust survivor and his message “of peace, atonement and human dignity.”

Answer Key

1. H     2. J     3. L     4. D     5. K     6. E     7. F     8. B     9. G    10. C     11. I     12. A 

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