Time Era

Historic time period: 1945–early 1970's

Martin Luther King Jr. and Nonviolence

Have you ever heard of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington? What was his dream for America, who was the man behind those famous words, and why do we celebrate his story every January?

Martin's Big Words is an illustrated biography that traces Dr. King's life from his childhood and includes quotes from his writings and speeches. Explore Dr. King's story by reading together and then try some of these fun activities to learn more about him and other brave Americans who worked on the civil rights movement

The National Museum of American History has a rich collection of objects from the civil rights movement, including a portion of the lunch counter from the sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, and a handbill from the 1963 March on Washington.

Read This Book

You can learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and nonviolence during the civil rights movement by reading these books. Click on the book titles below for more information, or visit our complete bibliography.

More Recommended Books

Martin's Big Words book cover

Featured Book

Martin's Big Words

by Doreen Rappaport

Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. Text © Doreen Rappaport. Illustrations © Bryan Collier. Used by permission of Disney Publishing. All rights reserved.



    Comic Book Hero

    Learn from Objects

    By looking closely at a comic book, learn about how nonviolence worked in the past and make your own pocket card with tips to use nonviolence today. Image courtesy of Fellowship of Reconciliation

    Download the PDF »
  • Word Art with Martin's Words

    Word Art with Martin's Words

    Use Technology

    Make word art on the computer using the words of Dr. King's speeches and letters.

    Download the PDF »
  • Artistic picture of a government building

    Visit Your Government

    Take A Trip

    Have you ever been to a place where laws are made or enforced? Visit a seat of government in your community and think of some ways you could influence the government through nonviolence.

    Download the PDF »
  • window decoration with a blue dove

    Remembering King

    Play and Create

    Create a window decoration inspired by Dr. King and the ideas he shared with others.

    Download the PDF »
  • March on Washington handbill

    To March or Not to March?

    Study in School

    Take on the role of a fictional American in the mid-1900s and use a primary source to decide whether or not to join Dr. King at the March on Washington.

    Download the PDF »

    Download the PowerPoint file (right-click to save) » Presentation requires either Microsoft® PowerPoint® (Windows and Mac), or Microsoft's PowerPoint Viewer (Windows only). Mac users without PowerPoint can download and install the Open Office® Suite.

Need the Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® ? Download it here.

Need the Adobe® Flash® Player? Download it here.

See all OurStory activities »

Smithsonian's History Explorer