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March on Washington - 50th Anniversary (1963-2013): Lesson Plans

The 1963 March on Washington attracted an estimated 250,000 people for a peaceful demonstration to promote Civil Rights and economic equality for African Americans. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech highlighted the event.

Lesson Plans

A History of Discrimination and Its Consequences


For middle thru high school students. Activities include: 

  • How do families achieve the American Dream?
  • The Story of Two Families - traces them thru five generations
  • The Interactive Timeline - The interactive nature of the timeline allows for students and teachers to learn more about these historic events through both text and video.

A Mathematical Representation of the March


This lesson is designed for high school, middle school, or elementary students with Intellectual Disabilities.  Activities include:

In order to help students better understand the large number of people who attended the March on Washington, this lesson uses items (could be dot stickers, paper clips, etc.)to represent the number of people who attended. Further the lesson gives them the task of recreating an accurate account by using a map, and views from different parts of the March.

  • Representation and Percentages
  • How many people were at the March on Washington in 1963?

A Time for Change


For middle thru high school students. Activities include:

  • Interactive Timeline- The interactive nature of the timeline allows for students and teachers to learn more about these historic events through both text and video.
  • The Who and How of March on Washington -  Put students in small groups and give them copies of two documents:
    • The “Final Plans for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”
    • The program for “March on Washington for Jobs and Free
  • What We Demand- The Goals of the March on Washington -  Pass out the worksheet “The Goals of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: What Did They Hope to Accomplish” to the students and ask them to read through the goals.

Basic Resources


Resources designed to support the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Lesson Plans and Resources

Discrimination- Fair or Unfair


This lesson is designed for high school, middle school, or elementary students with Intellectual Disabilities.  It is designed specifically for students who have difficulty with verbal and written expression.  Activities include:

  • “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss
    • Ask the students what they think the word discrimination means
  • Fair or Unfair?
    • Put the definition of “discrimination” on the board and ask students to decide whether it is “FAIR” or “UNFAIR”

“I Have a Dream” as a Work of Literature


For grades 9-12.  Activities include:

Students will study Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and discuss the rhetorical influences on King’s speech, the oratorical devices that King uses in delivering his speech and how a speech is similar to/different from other literary forms.

For this activity, have the students compare the structure and content of “I Have a Dream,” Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address" and Kennedy’s inaugural address.

Leadership at the March through Music and Speeches


For middle thru high school.  The lesson plan looks at the goals of the march, the music, the speeches, and also gives biographical sketches for several of the participants.

The March on Washington and Its Impact


Students will read Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech and explore themes such as the social conditions in the U.S. that led to the civil-rights movement, King’s philosophy and practice of peaceful resistance, the immediate impact of the March on society at the time and the long-term significance of the March.

Racial Equality-How Far Have We Come and How Far do We Still Need to Go?


For middle thru high school students.  Activities include:

  • What would you march for?
  • “A More Perfect Union” Speech - President Obama's speech
  • Four Corners
  • As a class, ask students to think about the following two questions:
    • Where we are on the road to true equality of the races in our country?
    • How much further do you think we still need to come?