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Virtual Viewing Party: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Celebrate the service and impact of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life by joining us for a virtual viewing party on his birthday! This event features a special video with associated resources and activities to help students understand the history of Dr. King’s work and the importance of service to a healthy community.


What is a Virtual Viewing Party?

A Virtual Viewing Party is a shared viewing experience of a special Discovery Education video. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Virtual Viewing Party features the video Celebrate with DE: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which takes students inside the life and contributions of the renowned civil rights leader. Thousands of classrooms will simultaneously access this video and share their thoughts and reflections about civil rights, service, and community. If this is your first Virtual Viewing Party read our FAQs for additional information. The content and activities are suitable for all grades, and we always recommend a preview to determine whether the content suits the needs of your specific class(es). Interested in accessing the footage and resources from this MLK Virtual Viewing Party after January 21? Log in and search the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Channel. Not a Discovery Education user? No problem. Request a demo.

Join the Discussion

What if we are participating in the on-demand event? Your class can watch the video at any time and join the discussion independently. If you are participating on-demand, you may want to have students review the Twitter discussion to compare ideas and make connections. You can also use the suggested resources below to support your discussions.

Viewing Party Essential Questions

  • How would you describe Dr. King’s greatest legacy?
  • How are his views and work still relevant today? How does Dr. King’s work personally impact your life?
  • How has our society improved since the civil rights era? What areas still have opportunities for improvement?
  • What does service mean to you?
  • Why is it important to serve others in your community?
  • How can we best honor the life and legacy of Dr. King?


Suggested Viewing Activities

To make the most of the Virtual Viewing Party with your class, we suggest the following activities.

Before the Viewing Party

Activity 1 Explain to your students that this Virtual Viewing Party will focus on the life and service of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Use a K-W-L chart to keep track of what students already Know and find out what they Wonder and would like to Learn from the video and during the event. Since many of your students will have some familiarity with Dr. King, challenge them to predict what pieces of his story will be included in the video.

Activity 2

Organize students into pairs and distribute some or all of the following quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

  • “The time is always right to do what is right.”
  • “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
  • “In the end, we remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”
  • “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
  • “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
  • “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Direct each student pair to analyze the quote and rewrite it in their own words. Then, challenge students to make inferences about the speaker based on the quote (e.g., he believes in service to others, love, justice, and freedom). Call on each student group to share its paraphrase and inferences and write them down. As an added challenge, you may wish to ask students to guess who the speaker is.

Activity 3

Prepare students for watching the video by having them complete mini research projects on one of the following topics referenced in the video:

  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • March on Washington
  • Selma to Montgomery March
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
Working in small groups, students should consult 1-2 sources to learn the basic facts related to their topic. Once they have completed their research, invite each student group to share its findings with the class.

During the Viewing Party

Activity 1 Use the SOS strategy Read My Mind to focus students on key concept words presented during the video. Examples might include tolerance, equality, freedom, and service. Keep the list you’ve created under wraps until the students have had a chance to view the video twice: on the first viewing, allow the students to watch and listen without any writing or response; on the second viewing, challenge students to jot down words they think you have selected as keywords. (You may support students by providing a printed transcript and allowing them to highlight keywords.) Take some time to discuss the keywords and how they relate to the importance of Dr. King’s work and the reasons we celebrate his legacy. Then, return to your K-W-L chart and complete the Learn column with things the students have learned. Activity 2 Have each student write down 3 questions based on the video for a classmate to answer. After the first viewing of the video, students should give their papers to classmates. Students can work on answering the questions immediately, or you can show the video a second time and students can write their answers based upon the second viewing.

Activity 3

During the second half of the video (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Discussion Questions), pause before or after featured students answer each question to allow your students to offer their own ideas. The discussion questions are as follows:

  • Why do you think MLK Day is important? What does it mean to you?
  • Why is Dr. King’s work still important today?
  • How can we show tolerance toward others?
  • What does service mean to you?
  • How can you serve others in your community?
Be prepared to ask follow-up questions to encourage students to expand upon their responses and those of the featured students.

After the Viewing Party

Activity 1 Challenge students to demonstrate their understanding of the people and time period featured in the video by inviting them to engage in a round of They Said What?! in which they’ll imagine what individuals in the video might be saying. Use the pause function to present various people in the video and challenge students to draw speech bubbles on sticky notes or index cards to write what they think these people are saying to each other at that point in history. Students should be authentic to the person in the video and consider what the person was thinking, wondering or feeling at that time. Be sure to include the people in the crowds and community. (You may also print screenshots or encourage students to sketch the individuals.)

Activity 2

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is perhaps the best-known civil rights leader, but many courageous men and women have fought for civil rights. Encourage students to learn more about the enduring legacy of civil rights activism by researching a prominent leader who is active today. Examples include:

  • Michelle Alexander
  • Kimberly Bryant
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Patrisse Cullors
  • Ava duVernay
  • John Lewis
  • Lateefah Simon
  • Bryan Stevenson
  • Ciara Taylor
In their research, students should focus on the leader’s key ideas and tactics. After students have completed their research, invite them to share their findings with the class. As an added challenge, encourage students to compare and contrast the ideas and tactics of the individual they studied with those of Dr. King. Activity 3 Have your students think about ways they might be able to contribute to a healthy community in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and every day. Visit the MLK Day of Service website ( to find opportunities to volunteer in your community and have students choose one to complete with classmates or their families. Share your students’ plans via your personal, class, or school Twitter account. Don’t forget to share it all with us on Twitter @DiscoveryEd using #CelebratewithDE.

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