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Teaching the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Next Wednesday, Aug. 28, marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the monumental 1963 civil rights event at which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Commemorative events, including rallies and panel discussions, are being held over the next several days. On the day of the anniversary, President Obama is scheduled to address the nation from the very spot on which King delivered his speech.
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Many of the events, according to reports, are intended not simply to celebrate the original march but to draw much-needed inspiration and lessons from it in the face of continued racial disparities and injustices.

For teachers looking to bring this historical moment to the classroom, a number of organizations are providing resources. Here's a selection:

• PBS Newshour offers background resources on the March, as well as a lesson plan on the "I Have a Dream" speech as literature.

• On Tuesday, Aug. 27, starting at 9:00 a.m. ET, the King Center and Discovery Education will be hosting a two-hour virtual field trip on the March anniversary. The presentation will include remarks from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, a documentary video on the March, and a panel discussion featuring legendary civil rights activists.

• The Urban Institute has compiled research assessing how well the nation has addressed racial disparities over the past 50 years.

• Teaching Tolerance is hosting a virtual march for students and teachers. (See also Emily Chiariello's post on the essential components of civil rights education.)

• The Smithsonian has created an excellent oral history of the March.

• The National Education Association offers March-related lessons plans, including audio and video clips, organized by grade level.

• The Zinn Education Project, vial the Huffington Post, offers teaching tips aimed at "counteracting sanitized" textbook versions of the March.

• Comcast has created a nice multimedia feature on the legacy of the March.

Let us know what other resources and approaches you are using.

Photo: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington, D.C. in Aug. of 1963.
—AP-File

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