Becoming a Self-Advocate for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 15 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement that engulfed the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. He was influential in his fight for racial equality and ending racial segregation in the country. The purpose of this day is to “reflect on the work that still needs to be done for racial equality, and to take the time to reflect on civil rights issues across the globe”. Learn more about the man, the movement, and the observation here.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an advocate. Not just for himself but for an entire movement. Upon his death, his advocacy lived on, culminating in this day to commemorate him. Take up the mantle and learn to be an advocate for yourself and others.

Self-advocacy is when you know your rights and you speak up for them. You are able to ask for what you want. You can tell people about your feelings. For example, you get the wrong order at a restaurant. You would be able to tell the server this and get it fixed. Why is self-advocacy important? It will allow you to share in decisions made about your life. It will create independence. Be assertive when voicing your feelings. This means you don’t hold back. You must be confident in yourself. If you can do this, then you can take control of your own life. You will be able to make your own decisions.

Use this Self-Advocacy Roadmap graphic organizer to help identify a problem and come out the other side a success. The first step in self-advocacy is to accept that you need help. Here, you will write down the problem. Next, you will need to identify why you need help. Maybe you have some limitations. Maybe you have challenges. List those here. Follow the roadmap to get help in reaching your self-advocacy goals.

Being an advocate for yourself, others or an entire movement is a very powerful position. You have the power to accomplish positive change that will help yourself and others. The Civil Rights Movement is just one example of advocates—like Martin Luther King Jr.—who fought for what they thought was right and made actual change that benefitted many people. The novel The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 takes place during the time of the Civil Rights Movement, and highlights key events that occurred during this tumultuous time in American History. Download and complete these 2 free worksheets from our Novel Study Guide for The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963. The first activity, In the News, asks students to research the bombing that took place at the 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963 in the city of Birmingham, Alabama. Students will write a fictional news article detailing the aftermath and how it affected the Civil Rights Movement. The second activity, Race and Equality, asks students to design a poster that promotes equality and peace. Students will include a brochure panel that describes why racial equality and the Civil Rights Movement remains as important today as it was in 1963.

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