South Orangetown Central School District

Leading up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day last month, South Orangetown Middle School sixth-grade English Language Arts teachers reviewed resources and activities to help their classrooms better understand the importance of the national holiday.

“After reading a lesson from PBS, we decided to focus on King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,’” recounts ELA teacher Morgan Harris. “We knew that our students had heard this speech before, but this time, we wanted them to really look at and listen to the words being spoken and then interpret them through art. The results were beautiful.”

Students read and listened to King’s famous speech and were challenged to interpret an excerpt of their choice through digital or handmade artwork.

Anna H. was inspired by the following passage:

“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Her collage incorporates a full-color, hand-drawn image of King at a podium on a black and white background of the excerpted text. “I wanted to depict Dr. King to honor him because these were his words and his ideas and they changed the world,” Anna explained. “We’ve learned about Dr. King in the past, but it’s important that people realize that his words gave people hope and inspired them to continue this work long after he was gone.”

Photo of student artist and her rendering of MLK Jr.