King Jr., Martin Luther
This youtube video consists of a series of excerpts from Martin Luther King’s “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech which he delivered on April 3rd, 1968, the night before he was assassinated. This speech is, in essence a rallying cry for the Black liberation movement; the excerpts captured by this video include MLK’s appeal to the essential “Americanness” of the right to protest, his (incredibly prophetic) acceptance of the possibility of his own death, and the inevitability of the victory of his followers over the forces that oppress them. King remains perhaps the greatest orator in American history; quite frankly, if this speech fails to engage all of my students, I have no idea what will.
The speech scores a 7th grade reading level on the Fry scale, and I feel that this is wholly appropriate. The speech was designed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and, as such, is accessible to most all listeners/readers.
Use in and outside of class
I would feel entirely comfortable using this speech for any number of activities, but I would prefer to play it in-class rather than assign it as homework. This speech is a shining example of effective rhetoric in that it’s both informative and motivating; as such, I think that showing it in class will serve to really engage my students and will undoubtedly be an important addition to my text set.
Other than turning on the closed captioning, I don’t think much needs to be done in terms of making this more accessible for ELLs or students with IEPs; King uses simple vocabulary and simple syntax to convey a simple (yet utterly powerful) message and, as such, this text is likely to be extremely approachable for these students already.
Submitted by Mitch Linde