Lesson Plan Menu
House on Mango Street


Michael Eric Dyson on Martin Luther King

When you read this aloud, try to express the same passion and anger evident in the voice of Dyson, a professor and ordained Baptist minister, when he gave this lecture/sermon. 

Martin Luther King, Jr., kept getting up morning after morning, knowing they [the FBI and other government agencies] were after him, knowing they were possessed of this zealous intensity that was illegal and immoral!  And so he was a danger to America.  Why?  Because he loved democracy so much he wanted to see it become real.  He wanted to march democracy from parchment to pavement.  He wanted to see it become a reality in this nation.  That’s why he had a dream. 

But America has frozen him.  Now they freeze King in this posture of dreaming before the sunlit summit of expectation at the height of his national fame in Washington, D.C., where he said, “I have a dream.”  He said more than that.   We ought to have a moratorium on that speech for the next ten years.  I don’t want to hear it no more!  And if you’re gonna play the speech, play the other parts of the speech:  “We have come to the nation’s capital to cash a check marked ‘insufficient funds.’ ”  [In other words,] “Where’s my money?!” That’s the part we ought to play.  Right?  We ought to play the part where King says, “The foundations of this nation will continue to shake.”  He said, “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of this nation until the Negro is granted his full citizenship rights.”  Play that part, too!

Why is Dyson angry the media have reduced King’s memory to “I Have a Dream?”     What does he think Martin Luther King, Jr.’s real message was?    

If you don’t have a lot to say in response to these two questions, write for five minutes non-stop anything that comes to mind in response to Dyson’s words.

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