C-SPAN In The Classroom Podcast: Martin Luther King, Jr.: Life and Legacy

By | January 14, 2023

With the recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. this month, the team shares C-SPAN Classroom resources that reflect the life and legacy of this historic figure.

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Good evening Dr Martin Luther King the Apostle of non-violence in the civil Rights movement has been shot to death In Memphis Tennessee police have issued An all-points bulletin for a world rest Young white man seen running from the Scene officers also reportedly chased And fired on a radio-equipped car Containing two white men Dr King was Standing on the balcony of a second Floor hotel room tonight when according To a companion a shot was fired from Across the street in the friend's words The bullet exploded in his face police Who have been keeping a close watch over The Nobel Peace Prize winner because of Memphis turbulent racial situation we're On the scene almost immediately they Rushed the 39 year old negro leader to a Hospital where he died of a bullet wound In the neck police said they found a High-powered hunting rifle about a block From the hotel but it was not Immediately identified as the murder Weapon mayor Henry Loeb has reinstated The Dusk to Dawn curfew he imposed on The city last week when March led by Dr King erupted in violent violence Governor Buford Ellington has called out Four thousand National Guardsmen and Police report that the murder has Touched off sporadic acts of violence in A negro section of the city in a Nationwide television address President

Johnson expressed the nation's shot America is shocked and saddened by the Brutal slaying tonight Of Dr Martin Luther King I ask every citizen To reject the blind violence That has struck Dr King Who lived By non-violence I pray that his family Can find comfort in the memory of all he Tried to do for the land He loved so well I have just conveyed the sympathy of as Johnson myself To his Woulda Mrs King I know that every American of good will Joins me in mourning the death of this Outstanding leader And in praying for peace and Understanding Throughout this land that was CBS anchor Walter Cronkite announcing the Assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr on April 4th 1968. In the aftermath of the assassination The country mourned the loss of this Civil rights leader there were riots and Demonstrations not just in the U.S but Globally as well This opening archival clip also includes Remarks from president Lyndon Johnson Who offered condolences to the king Family and encouraged the country to

Come together in peace In another clip that's paired with the Opening clip that we just played Mr Pineal Joseph of the University of Texas At Austin states that Dr King's funeral Was seen by over 100 million Americans And every major presidential candidate For the 1968 presidential election from Bobby Kennedy to Richard Nixon or in Attendance 125 American cities erupted in protest And sympathy demonstrations occurred in Europe Africa and Latin America I'm Zach and I'm joined by my colleagues Craig and Pam with Dr King's birthday January 15th and with a nationwide Celebration of his birthday occurring The following Monday As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day our team will explore Dr King's Life And Legacy through the Civil Rights Movement to the present day and offer Suggestions and resources to help you Teach about the American icon in your Classroom Welcome back and thanks for joining us As we share C-SPAN resources that can be Used in your classrooms as you recognize Martin Luther King Jr day with your Students in 1983 following several years Of petitioning President Reagan signed The federal holiday into law and we Observed the holiday on the third Monday Of January each year Dr King's actual

Birthday was on January 15 1929 and Before we dive into some of the key Moments in his life let's take a brief Look at his Youth and background as Ann Shumard Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery curator discusses in this clip He was originally named Michael Luther King but his father later changed his Own name and that of his son and at the Age of five he became Martin Luther King Jr no longer Michael he was a precocious Child he graduated from high school at The age of 15 and then went to Morehouse College in Atlanta he was ready then to Go on to the Crozier Theological Seminary in Chester Pennsylvania he Distinguished himself there as well Graduated at the top of his class and From there moved on to Boston University To pursue his doctoral studies while he Was in Boston he met a young Alabama Native Coretta Scott who was studying Voice at the New England Conservatory of Music the two married even though King's Father had hoped that he would choose an Atlanta as his bride the family readily Accepted Coretta and they were married In 1953 as king continued his doctoral Studies he was is and nearing the end of His of his formal study and was looking For a possible employment opportunities Either in Academia or perhaps as a Pastor in a church he was invited to Deliver trials sermons at several

Parishes and in Montgomery Alabama he Delivered a sermon for the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church he was greeted with a Great response and was invited then to Assume the pastorship of that church he And Coretta debated they weren't really Sure that they wanted to settle in the South but they came to the conclusion That that really was the best place for Them to be and so at the young age of Just 25 Martin Luther King took up that Pastorship of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church as we consider just a few of many Key moments in Dr King's life let's Jump Ahead to 1955 and what was occurring in Montgomery Alabama Last month we recognized the anniversary Of the arrest of Rosa Parks on December 1st 1955 for her refusal to give up her Seat on a bus and while there have been Previous attempts and arrests with bus Boycotts this event really set the Course for the Montgomery Bus Boycott That spanned over a year in the days Following the arrest of Rosa Parks the Montgomery Improvement Association or The M.I.A was formed as a Grassroots Movement created to oversee the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Dr King was Selected to be its leader Dr King Prepared his remarks for the December 5th meeting of protesters at Holt Street Baptist Church and it was decided that The one day bus boycott would be

Extended Let's take a listen to a portion of a Bell ringer we have in which Ricky Brown Leads us through the exhibit at the Rosa Parks Museum in Troy University and Talks about the reasons for the bus Boycotts during this time now here we Have a list of the demands that the Protesters were asking for as you can See the first demand was that the Riders Be treated with respect and courtesy now This was important because a lot of Times they were asked to get on the Front of the bus pay their fare and then Ask to get off of the bus and go round To the back doors to ride well some of Those drivers would even pull off even Though they had paid their fare and they Had that person had to wait on another Bus pay another fare and then just hope And pray that the next driver didn't do The same thing so they asked for respect And courtesy first the second demand was First come first served seating but they Stated that they were only asking that The whites still load from the front to The back back and the blacks still low From the back to the front but once they Sat down they were not asked to get out Of their seats for any reason now the Third demand simply asked that the Company eventually hired black drivers But not for all the routes only the Routes that came through the black

Neighborhoods so as you can see they Didn't ask for total integration but Basically a little more reasonable Segregation but even still they were not Able to reach an agreement with the city Now mayor William a gale was the mayor This time and he was negotiating on Behalf of the city Um and he was negotiating against Dr Martin Luther King who was the spoke Person for the M.I.A organization at This point even though they wasn't Asking for total integration the city Felt that they were that if they gave Them an inch they would take uh take a Mile and that they were only asking for So little To get their foot in the door to Desegregate the buses totally so after Just a very short time a little over a Month they ended negotiations he goes on To discuss a phone call that Dr King Received on January 27 1956 threatening His life and indicating his home would Be bombed if he did not stop the bus Boycott and leave Montgomery This prompted doctor came to reflect in Prayer for strength and guidance and Three days later their home was bombed But nobody was hurt here's Ricky Brown Discussing the response to this event One was ever found for the bombing of The king's home now a large crowd as you See here had gathered in his yard when

He got home that evening This was a group of about 300 angry Protesters who was there seeking Revenge They wanted to fight back for Dr King And Fight Fire with Fire but Dr King Knowing that that would be a mistake Stepped out on his front porch and Decided to plea for peace He told all of them to go home and put Away their weapons he reminded them that Even if they receive violence they would Not return it no matter what and they Also told him that even if he would stop That the movement would not be stopped Because what they were doing was right And that God was with them so at this Point the focus shifted instead of Running Dr King out of town alone it was Then attempted to run eight to eight More people out of time with him by Indicting all 89 of them on an Anti-boycotting law a lawsuit emerged From these events that eventually made Its way to the Supreme Court the router V Gale decision confirmed the District Court's decision that the bus Segregation laws were unconstitutional And in December of that year Dr King was among the first to ride on The integrated bus system in Montgomery In 1957 Dr King expanded his role in the Fight for civil rights and collaborated With individuals in the movement as he Led the southern Christian leadership

Conference in Atlanta Where he was a co-pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church The 1960s saw non-violent student Activism in the Civil Rights Movement With sit-ins the first one being held on February 1st with four black students From North Carolina a t College sitting In at a Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro North Carolina that was Reserved for white customers only when Those students were asked to leave they Refused So this event launched similar sit-ins In other states including Alabama where The Civil Rights cause was gaining Momentum in April of 1963 sit-ins at Various locations throughout the city of Birmingham took place and marches were Held in support of desegregation where Dr King took part in these peaceful Demonstrations in this clip from a Lesson plan we have titled Dr Martin Luther King Jr letter from Birmingham Jail Samford University Professor Jonathan bass provides contacts for what Was happening in Birmingham at the time We're in the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in front of a replica of Dr Martin Luther King's jail cell what Dr King is hoping to do as he says is he Wants to shed the light of Truth on the Injustices of segregation in Birmingham So what he needs is National media

Coverage to show those injustices which Of course were rampant throughout Birmingham uh it had just been innate to To segregation in Birmingham and so Early on the the can campaign doesn't Attract a lot of interest it's it's Criticized he does Dr King doesn't have A lot of volunteers uh some of the early Sit-ins that they uh that some of the Volunteers go on you see one or two People sitting at a lunch counter that Are arrested a judge in Birmingham Issues an injunction which prohibits any Marches in the streets of Birmingham Without a parade permit uh as a king and The selc they're not going to get a Parade permit from the outgoing Administration in Bull Connor and and so He decides on Good Friday 1963 in a very symbolic way it was very Intentional that they were he was going To disobey this court injunction and uh And and just like Christ had picked up His cross on Good Friday in March Through the streets Dr King and the Volunteers that came with him they Decided they were going to Mark March Streets of of Birmingham the Marchers About 50 of them gathered at Sixth Avenue Zion Hill Baptist Church it's a Very small church it was just packed out That day with with people that were Awaiting in anxious anticipation for Dr King uh Ralph Abernathy and Fred

Shuttlesworth to show up and begin to Lead this Good Friday March they they Begin the March they come down Sixth Avenue North they pass right in front of The 16th Street Baptist Church and but They only marched for about two and a Half blocks and finally they Birmingham Police kind of run a motorcycle up on The sidewalk in front of him and they Arrest King and Abernathy and they take Them across town over to South Side Which is where the Birmingham Jail was Located according to the king Institute At Stanford University the led us sought To explain the value of a non-violent Campaign and it's quote full basic steps Where the collection of the facts to Determine whether injustices exist Negotiation self-purification and direct Action He went on to explain that the purpose Of direct action was to create a crisis Situation out of which negotiation could Emerge for an activity students can Analyze Dr King's letter as a primary Source like a DBQ a lesson has clips That talk about the issue of moderates In the letter as well as complacency and Poetry so they can be jigsawed for Students to view and share as part of a Larger discussion check out the podcast Page for all of the resources that we're Discussing in today's podcast including The text of the letter the lesson and

The clips that are included too yeah as You mentioned Craig Dr King believed That the purpose of direct action was to Create opportunities for negotiation Most of our listeners have probably Heard Dr King's I Have a Dream speech That was given at the March on Washington for jobs and freedom on August 28 1963 a speech was given in Front of a crowd of 250 000 people right Here in Washington DC on the National Mall But let's hear a portion of an earlier Version of this speech given by Dr King Just a few months prior in Detroit Michigan I have a dream this afternoon And my four little children And my four little children will not Come up in the same young days that I Came up within but they will judge be Judged on the basis of the content of That character not the color of their Skin I have a dream this afternoon And one day right here in Detroit Negroes will be able to buy a house or Rent a house anywhere that their money Will carry them they will be able to get A job And have a dream this afternoon that the Brotherhood of Man will become a reality In this day with this faith I will go Out Have a tunnel of Hope through the

Mountain of Despair with this faith I Will go out with you and transform dark Yesterdays into bright tomorrows with This faith we will be able to achieve This new day when all of God's children Black men and white men Jews and Gentiles Protestants and Catholics will Be able to join hands and sing with the Negroes in the spiritual of all free at Last free at last This speech clip can be used to Introduce the concept of redlining as Dr King references the goal of African Americans being able to purchase a home On an equal footing Students could also compare the language From this speech to the arguably more Famous version two months later to Explore the writing and revision process Used by Dr King regardless of these two Considerations both speeches serve as a As foundational Hallmarks for students As they learn about and analyze the Goals and accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement I spent the last seven Years as a teacher in South Carolina and We would always take our 8th graders on A trip to a little Sea Island just a few Miles from the Coastal Community of Beaufort On this island is the Pen Center the Site of the former Penn School which was One of the country's first schools for Formerly enslaved individuals

And while the school ceased operations In 1948 the site held numerous Conferences and Retreats for civil Rights leaders including Dr King who Wrote portions of his I Have a Dream Speech in a cabin that is still standing On the property And on a slightly more personal note Dr King's speaking location is marked today With a plaque on the floor in front of The Lincoln Memorial To stand on that spot and look out over The National Mall there are just no Words so voices were being heard and the Year following that speech the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed which Prevented discrimination on the basis of Race color religion sex or national Origin it was a step in the right Direction but the struggle continued So we continue the March through Dr King's life and stop in the city of Selma Alabama where on March 7 1965 Several hundred protesters gathered to March for voting rights as part of the Broader Civil Rights Movement Now this was motivated in part by the Death of Jimmy Lee Jackson who was Killed in Marion Alabama during a Nighttime peaceful March in that City in February 1965. we have a resource on That topic that we will list on our Website along with the other resources We have on Dr King

But now let's listen to a clip from our Selma Alabama and Bloody Sunday lesson Plan that features former Georgia Representative John Lewis speaking at The Edmund Pettus bridge on the 50th Anniversary of the March that became Known as Bloody Sunday on March 7 1965. A few innocent children of God Some carrying only a beard roll A few clutching a simple bag A plain purse Or backpack We're inspired to walk 50 dangerous miles from Selma to Montgomery To demonstrate the need for voting Rights in the state of Alabama On that day On that day 600 people March into history Walking two by two Down the sidewalk Not interfere with the free flood Trade and commerce Not interfere and betrayal With a kind of military discipline We were so peaceful So quiet No one's saying a word We were beaten Tear gas Some of us was left bloody right here on This bridge

17 of us were hospitalized that day But we never became bitter a Hosta We kept believing that the truths we Stood for would have the finals said A significant point from that day is That the media was present and it Provided a window into what unfolded From local press cameras to national News coverage the whole country could See for themselves what occurred Following that day Dr King called for Clergy members across the country to go To Selma in March an injunction had been Put in place to keep this from happening So he and supporters found a workaround On March 9th they marched on the bridge And were met by law enforcement on the Other side the protesters led by Dr King Stopped and knelt in prayer and then did A turnaround this became known as Turnaround Tuesday not just for that Action but also because attitudes Started to change toward voting rights But the fight didn't stop there in this Next clip we'll hear National Park Service Guide April Baldwin explained What unfolded in the days following in Addition to Dr King's remarks Frank Johnson the federal district court judge Actually began hearings on March the 11th so he heard from many civil rights Leaders he heard from Jose Williams John Lewis Miss Amelia Boynton Robinson Others who were involved with the

Movement and from the opposition Jim Clark the governor Governor Wallace and Others who were not fond of the March And thought that it would disrupt Public Safety and after this he issued his Decision pretty much saying that this March would be necessary in Florida in Order for African Americans to actually Attain the right to vote that there had Been such an injustice done to these Folks especially here in the city of Selma by those issuing the injunction That a March of this scale seemed to be Appropriate that ruling was actually Issued on March the 17th so these folks Only have four days to get everything Together in order to make the entire Trek from Selma to Montgomery so Beginning on March 21st more than 3 200 People gathered right at Brown Chapel AME Church to begin the March all the Way from Selma to Montgomery so they Came down they took the Bloody Sunday Route they came down Sylvan Street Turned right on Alabama Avenue Progressed abroad Street and across the Edmond Pettis bridge this time with no Sea of Bloom and continued to March for Five days and four nights staying at Different campsites which were typically Black farms in Dallas County Lowndes County and a Catholic complex in Montgomery County for four nights and Continue to March all the way until they

Got to the Alabama state capitol on March the 25th of 1965. Sunday morning [Applause] Selma Alabama They told us we wouldn't get here There were those who have said that we Would get here only over that dead body Talk to all the world today knows that We are here and we are standing before The forces of power in the state of Alabama saying we ain't gonna let nobody Turn us around A few months later the Voting Rights Act Of 1965 was signed ensuring that African-Americans would be granted the Right to vote and this March was the Direct cause for African-Americans Having their right to vote insured by The federal government so this March and This demonstration have been the Realization of the desire of African Americans to have the right to vote for Over a hundred years since the end of Reconstruction So as a National Park Service Guide April bourbon just stated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that African-Americans had the right to vote But in the years that followed Tumultuous racial division continued Throughout the country including in Memphis Tennessee on February 1st 1968 Two sanitation workers Echo Cole and

Robert Walker were accidentally killed By the compactor in their malfunctioning Garbage truck This led to a strike of approximately 1300 sanitation workers on February 12th Who were asking for better wages and Work conditions among other Considerations As the strike continued Dr King returned To Memphis on April 3 1968 to join the Cause and checked into the Lorraine Motel Let's listen to National Civil Rights Museum historian Ryan Jones talk about What happened during Dr King's Day Dr King and the Reverend Ralph Abernathy Check into room 306 he meets with clergy Men and the City of Memphis he was also Going to meet with lawyers he was facing An injunction to have a successful March The following week on Monday April the 8th so he met with his lawyers as well Here at the Lorraine Motel in room 306. But Dr King on that day he's feeling Very emotionally drained he's suffering From flu-like symptoms he's suffering From laryngitis it was one of the lowest Points of his life Later that day Memphis uh has tornado Warnings in the greater Memphis Area There was a scheduled rally that night At the nearby Mason Temple and he Doesn't think that there's going to be a Large turnout because of the inclement

Weather so he sends Reverend Alvern at The Ambassador Andrew Young and a young Reverend Jesse Jackson to speak for him In his place Reverend Jesse Jackson Andy young and Reverend Abernathy arrive at the Mason Temple and they see over 2 000 people Have come in the weather and they're all Applauding thinking that Dr King is Right behind them and once they realize This this was Dr King's crowd Reverend Abernathy calls from the Mason Temple he Calls Dr King here at the Lorraine and He urges and encourages him to come and Greet the guests that have come in the Way to hear him speak once Dr King Arrives about 30 minutes later he says Something on this night that he hadn't Said in any of his other profound Speeches in the past 12 years during his Duration as a leader in this movement Like anybody I would like to live A long life longevity Has its place But I'm not concerned about that now I just want to do God's will [Applause] And he's allowed me to go up to the Mountain All right and I've looked over And I've seen The Promised Land Put that with you But I want you to know the night

We as a people will get to the promised Land What we didn't know is that this time That this will be the last public Address that Dr King would make just 24 Hours later he'd be assassinated by a Bullet Dr King was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee at 601 pm on April 4th 1968 dying just over An hour later at a nearby hospital He was 39 years old In the aftermath of the assassination Riots erupted in over 100 American Cities dubbed the Holy Week uprising as Folks grappled with what the murder Meant The Atlantic says that in the week Following the shooting in Memphis quote Hundreds of buildings were burned Thousands of arrests were made and more Than 40 people lost their lives Four days after the murder Dr King's Widow Coretta Scott King and the Couple's four children led a crowd of Forty thousand in a silent March through Memphis Tennessee to honor Dr King and Support the cause of the city's black Sanitation workers When discussing her motivation to do so Ms King said quote I asked the question How many men must die before we can Really have a free and true and peaceful Society One day later Dr King's casket proceeded

Down the streets of Atlanta Georgia in Front of 100 000 onlookers as it made Its way three and a half miles from Ebenezer Baptist Church to Morehouse College and finally to South View Cemetery in our on this day resource Covering the assassination of Dr King Of which we played a clip to open this Episode Can hear from other voices in response To the event including those of Cleveland Ohio mayor Carl Stokes They can view live footage of riots in Washington DC And they can view footage of the funeral I'd be remiss if I didn't also loop back To what you mentioned earlier Craig That on April 16th the cause that had Consumed the final days of King's life Realized its goal as the city of Memphis Agreed to improved wages and the Recognition of the sanitation workers Union Soon after his death a push to establish A national holiday to recognize Martin Luther King Jr began it was an uphill Battle to Garner signatures and support For a bill to present to Congress but Finally on November 2nd 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed legislation that Designated the third Monday in January As an annual federal holiday with the First celebration taking place on January 20th 1986. in this next clip

President Reagan addressed students at a School here in Washington DC Martin Luther King Jr was right to insist Civil Rights Movement be non-violent and He was Brave Your teachers won't approve of my using The word I'm going to use now but I have To it's the best word for it it takes a Lot of guts not to hit back when someone Is hitting you and he had that kind of Guts he was a great man who rested Justice from the heart of a great Country And he succeeded because that great Country had a heart to be seized Martin Luther King Jr really helped make our Nation Freer It's not a perfect place we still have a Long way to go There's unfinished business And we can't rest until all prejudice Is gone forever the president told the Students the nation is different and Better because of Dr Martin Luther King Our country is different because Martin Luther King Jr made it better by the way He lived his life And that's why Dr King's birthday is now A national holiday for everyone in the Country because his contributions Benefited all Americans so while President Reagan signed the bill in 1983 Some states did not recognize the Holiday until the early 2000s

On August 22nd 2011 the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial opened on the National Mall in Washington DC for our final clip Here is secretary of the Department of The Interior Deb Holland discussing the Symbolism of the purposefully unfinished Monument there's actually Relational Parts System including those Here at the National Mall believe it or Not there's a 24-step process to go Through from the original concept to Dedication of a new Memorial and it Involves Congress the department of the Interior the National Park Service and Other government organizations The design of the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial was inspired by the line and Dr King's I Have a Dream speech where he Said with this faith we will be able to Hew out of the Mountain of Despair a Stone of Hope the memorial depicts a 30-foot High sculpture of Dr King a Literal and figurative Stone of Hope Standing forward of two other pieces of Grant that symbolized the mountain of Despair Sculpture of Dr King is unfinished much Like the history of civil rights in this Country This week's episode explored the Life And Legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr We hope that you check out all of the Resources that C-SPAN classroom offers To help you teach about Dr King in your

Classroom From archival news footage to eyewitness Reflections to contemporary discussion We know that your classroom can benefit And you'll find all the resources that We highlighted in this episode and more On our featured resources page at Www.c-span.org classroom and if you Would ever like to connect with our team To learn more about what we have to Offer to teachers and students please Email us anytime at educate C Hyphenspan.org and that's it for this Week please remember to like and follow Our podcast wherever you listen so you Don't miss our next episode until then Thanks for joining us [Music]