Liberation Curriculum

school integration


Document-based Lesson Plans, Online Educational Resources, and Historical Materials

The Liberation Curriculum

is a collection of educational material focusing on modern freedom and peace movements, and King's vision of a just and peaceful world. Currently directed by Dr. Mira S. Foster, this educational initiative invites students to engage with global struggles to overcome racism, discrimination, and injustice. The Liberation Curriculum highlights the successes and failures of ordinary people, activists, and movement leaders and seeks to inspire and empower students to build a just global community.

Lesson Plans


African American Gandhians - Nonviolence Advocates in the Civil Rights Movement

While King may have been the most prominent proponent of nonviolent activism, he certainly was not the only one. Long before King became the spokesman for the civil rights movement, many other activists were motivated by and committed to a nonviolent struggle for justice and freedom. This lesson plan focuses on those individuals who came before King and also those next to him, who inspired and led the civil rights movement while making nonviolence its guiding principle.

Nonviolence in the Indian and African-American Freedom Struggles

Many people and organizations involved in the African-American freedom struggle, including Martin Luther King, Jr., were influenced by the concept of nonviolence. This ideology was advocated and practiced by Mohandas K. Gandhi, the leaders of the Indian struggle for independence from British colonial rule. During this three-part lesson, students will: 1. Focus on Gandhi’s nonviolent philosophy. 2. Compare Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideas of nonviolence with those of Gandhi, who greatly influenced King. 3. Explore what it means to carry on Gandhi’s legacy of nonviolence in today’s world.

Letter from Birmingham Jail. The Power of Nonviolent Direct Action

The following lesson encourages students to reflect on nonviolence as an instrument to change unjust laws by studying the Birmingham Campaign of 1963. Within this six-part lesson students will participate in a role play about the intricate planning strategies for the campaign, also known as "Project C" - "C" for Confrontation. Students will observe the courageous activism of young people, and examine the eloquent words of Dr. King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail. The lesson provides students the opportunity to analyze primary source documents and discuss the concepts of social justice and social transformation in the past and in the present.

Building King’s World House - Diversity and Inclusion

This lesson focuses on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision of a World House, in which all people have to live together. Coming together from different national, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds, we find ourselves sharing the same classrooms, neighborhoods, and communities. Can we make our diverse social environment a place where everyone feels accepted and appreciated? A place, where the principles of human rights and democracy guarantee everyone a vote and a voice that is heard? This lesson plan will examine examples of bias and prejudice against minorities and marginalized groups. In various classroom activities, students will talk about ways in which they can be more tolerant, respectful, and inclusive.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Pilgrimage to India

On February 3rd, 1959, Martin Luther King, Jr., embarked on a five-week long journey to India, the homeland of Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), the leader of India’s independence movement. Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence and his success in ending the colonial rule of the British Empire over India profoundly influenced and inspired King’s Civil Rights activism back in the US. From King's perspective, the uprising of the Indian people against imperialism and the African Americans' struggle against racism, exemplified universal human goals to end oppression and injustice. The India trip had a lasting impact on King, as he himself later surmised. Experiencing firsthand the results of Gandhi's nonviolent activism, King solidified his belief in the power of nonviolence as a guiding ideology in the pursuit of freedom and justice.

Beyond Vietnam

On 4 April 1967, King made his most public and comprehensive statement against the Vietnam War. This lesson helps students to analyze, within the context of a particular historical period, Dr. King’s decision to speak out against the war in Vietnam. Why did he make this choice? What risks were involved? How was his speech received? Ultimately, this unit asks students to connect this speech to the present; Students examine Dr. King’s ideas about America’s role in the world -their relevance in the past and the present. In addition, this lesson aims to help students see King as more than a civil rights leader, as they explore the political and social implications of King’s position against the war and his call for economic justice.

The Global Vision of the Liberation Curriculum

"We have inherited a large house, a great 'world house' in which we have to live together—black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Moslem and Hindu—a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace."

From: Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community, Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967

The Liberation Curriculum is a collection of free and universally accessible lesson plans developed for students (of all ages) interested in exploring global, nonviolent struggles for freedom and equality. The Curriculum is inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s concept of the World House. In his last book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, published in 1967, King painted a picture of a world in which people of various ethnic, ideological, and religious backgrounds have to live together. They must learn to respect their differences and to act justly in order to ensure peaceful coexistence. Moreover, King also observed that humanity is interrelated and connected, "tied in a single garment of destiny," and so "whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." 

We, the authors of the Liberation Curriculum, believe that the purpose of education is to provide answers for how to best honor our differences, strengthen our connections, and live together in peace. Our mission is to design teaching materials that critically engage students with the past, and prepare them to challenge injustice and live together peacefully as global citizens. 

We accomplish our mission by using primary and secondary documents to analyze the life and work of King and the achievements of civil rights activists. Through the study of King's speeches and writings, students engage with the timeless ethical, philosophical, and spiritual ideals that influenced the civil rights and many other freedom movements. 

In lesson plans focusing on “Diversity and Inclusion,” “The Power of Nonviolence,” and “Love and Faith,” fundamental moral principles take center stage in classroom discussion, highlighting the struggles, accomplishments, and courage of ordinary people. Historical protests, strikes, and marches were initiated and sustained by children, students, workers, and local grassroots activists. Stories of passengers who protested discrimination by refusing to board segregated buses become the focus of the lesson plan on the “Montgomery Bus Boycott.” Watching students challenge segregated schools, or participate in sit-ins at lunch counters to protest racism, inspires students to stand up for justice themselves.

Our approach to education goes beyond teaching historical knowledge and job-related skills. Empathy, connection to the past and present, and active civic engagement are crucial to a just and peaceful future. By connecting what may seem like singular human experiences to a larger narrative of struggles for justice, our educational goal is to equip students with the tools to build King’s “World House.”

Education is a fundamental human right, not a privilege. We are committed to offering our educational resources free of charge and easily accessible on our website. With this online curriculum built around exceptional primary sources, students will begin to see the world not just as a neighborhood but also as a brother- and sisterhood.