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House on Mango Street

Detailed Instructions of each day: Day One

Materials needed:

  • Teacher Materials #1 and #2
  • Class sets of Student Handouts #1, #2 and #3

Point out to students that during the 1960s and ‘70s several political movements grew increasingly popular, powerful and radical, including movements by African Americans, Chicanos, Native Americans, opponents to the Vietnam War, women, gays and lesbians, and environmentalists.

The reasons so many groups of people organized and so many issues came to the fore of American politics in such a short time period are complex. But when I recently asked students why the American Indian Movement formed around the same time as the Black Power movement was on the rise, one student answered, “Native Americans probably heard about African Americans protesting and demanding equality, so they started doing it, too.” There’s more to it than that, of course, but she was partly right. Can we imagine that Chicanos, Native Americans and other oppressed people would fail to be inspired by the earlier upsurge and victories by African Americans? Of course not.

This leads us to an interesting question, even if it seems a little ridiculous:

What if the government and media had been able to hide the black freedom struggle from the rest of the country? 

For example, what if they had been able to pull a heavy curtain over Martin Luther King, Jr., and everything he said? What effect might that have had on the likelihood that others would fight for change? Brainstorm this scenario in groups or as a whole class and come up with ideas of what might or might not have happened if King’s words and ideas had been hidden from public view.

After some discussion on that question, ask:

Have the media and others, in fact, tried to keep King hidden since his death? 

It might not seem so, since his birthday is a national holiday. But point out that the holiday wasn’t “given” to us by a benevolent government. Many people fought for years to make it a holiday and were fiercely opposed by many who praise King today

Now comes the key question:

Have those who might not want you to know about King succeeded in hiding him?  (Most students will probably say no.)

To begin answering this question, we’ll consider several TV news reports on Martin Luther King’s birthday, January 15, 2001.  Read from Teacher Material #1 the transcript of several TV news reports.  (Or, you could just use page 3 of Teacher Material #1, a summary of the newscasts.)

As the students listen, ask them to write down any of King’s ideas they hear in two columns:

King’s Ideas I ALREADY Knew About King’s Ideas I did NOT know before

Emphasize that students should write down only what they hear of King’s ideas, not other facts about his life or his personal and leadership qualities.

When you have finished reading these excerpts to students and they have completed listing the ideas in two columns, ask students to share what they came up with.


Distribute Student Handout #1, “The Dream That Moved America,” an article on Martin Luther King that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.  Students will a read the article and take notes in the two columns provided on the first page of the handout, and will answer questions 1-3 after finishing reading and taking notes.  The two columns call for students to do the same thing they did when they heard the TV News stories: sort out the ideas they already knew about and from ideas that are new to them.  (Remind them that they are looking at information about King’s ideas, which doesn’t include other possibly interesting facts, such as how and when he wrote the “Dream” speech.)

Teacher's Guide
Essential Questions
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Additional Projects/Activities I
Additional Projects/Activities II
Additional Projects/Activities III
Additional Projects/Activities IV
Transcript of TV Reports
Michael Eric Dyson
  Materials for Other Activities
Instructions for Essay on King's Giant Triplets
Who Killed Martin Luther King?
St. Martin, The Militant
All Things Censored
Native American Resistance
Day Of Shame
Samples Of Student Work

Urban Dreams
OUSD Curriculum Unit
Hidden In Plain Sight -
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s
Radical Vision
Subject: U.S. History
Grade Level: 11th

Lesson Plan Author:
Craig Gordon
Organization: OUSD