||MLK Day Discussion Topics For the Very Young
Purchase several dolls (Min.2--these can be inexpensive rag dolls) or ask
children to bring the dolls. (Can also work with pictures, but dolls give
a feeling of realness and hold kids attention much better!) One doll should
be Afro-American and the other(s) other races--the
more the better. Have the children point out all of the things the dolls
have in common (sameness). Then have them point out all of the things that
the dolls do not have in common (differences). Be sure to point out that
all dolls have the same feelings-- "Do all of these "kids" feel sad sometimes?"
"If this one fell down and scraped her knee, and this one did, too, would
they both feel pain?" Ask children to name friends that have something in
common with one of the dolls, then another doll, and so on. It's a great
activity to bring up the discussion of diversity with young children.
submitted by an anonymous visitor
MLK Day Discussion Topics for Older Children and Adults
Today, more than thirty years after his death, many Americans still have
strong beliefs and/or feelings about Dr. King. Do you believe he made a positive
contribution to American society as a whole? Why or Why not? With which of
his teachings do you agree? Why? With which do you disagree? Why?
- Have you ever seen someone discriminated against (or treated differently) because of some physical, mental, or religious difference? If so, tell about it and tell how you responded. How do you think people should respond when they see others being discriminated against? Why do you think some people choose not to take a stand against discrimination?
Should the birthday of any one individual be a national holiday? Why or why
not? What are the benefits of holding certain people up as national heroes
and role models for today's youth? What are the potential dangers?
In your opinion, what three people have had the greatest impact on American
society? Defend your answer.
If you are from a country other than the United States, tell about one person
who has had a significant impact on your country. Does your country have
special holidays to honor any of its national heroes? Do you believe that
this practice is good? Why or why not?
Examine the definitions of "prejudice" and "discrimination." How are they
similiar? How are they different? Is prejudice ever appropriate? What about
discrimination? Explain your reasoning.
Dr. King expressed sadness that African-Americans were pre-judged on the
basis of their skin color. Do you believe that people are still discriminated
against today on the basis of their skin color? If so, offer examples. What
are some other characteristics that might cause a person to be discriminated
against? Give examples of this discrimination.
Dr King once remarked, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can
do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies
hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in
a descending spiral of destruction." Do you agree or disagree with this
statement? Why? Give an example of light "driving out" darkness. How could
love "drive out" hate? Have you ever seen this happen? If so, relate the
Dr King also stated that, "Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the
personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of
values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly
and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the
false with the true." Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
Why? Is hate ever justified? Why or why not? List as many dangers of hatred
as you can think of.
In the same speech, Dr. King said, "The church must be reminded that it is
not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of
the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its
tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become
an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority." How does
the church function as the conscience of the state? What are the dangers
of the church's becoming the master of the state? What happens to society
when the church becomes the servant of the state? State historical examples
of the church's being both the master and the servant of the state.
Another statement Dr. King made during that speech was "Injustice anywhere
is a threat to justice everywhere." Why is injustice a threat to justice?
What examples can you give of injustice in your society? How can you combat
In another speech, Dr. King insisted, "If a man hasn't discovered something
that he will die for, he isn't fit to live." What do you think he meant by
this statement? Do you agree or disagree? Defend your answer. If you agree,
what kinds of causes would you be willing to die for? Why?
In a speech made just hours before his assassination, Dr. King remarked
that although he would enjoy living a long life just as anyone would, the
length of his life was not his primary concern. He expressed his whole-hearted
belief that he was doing God's will and insisted that he had no fear of death
or of any man. Have you ever encountered people who have no fear of death?
What reasons did they give for their absence of fear? Why do you think some
people fear death so greatly when it is a natural part of life?