Mlk Time Line

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  • Twinkl updated the Main Version 5 years ago

What is the Printable Martin Luther King Jr. Timeline?

This Printable Martin Luther King Jr. Timeline chronicles the details of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. Our colorful, beautifully illustrated resource begins in 1929, and ends in 2004. The best part about this timeline is that it’s the perfect resource to display around your classroom, especially on bulletin boards during Black History Month or on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This will be an excellent visual aid, engaging your kids and helping them understand the moments that shaped and defined the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Three key events spotlighted in this timeline are:

    1. 1929: Martin Luther King Jr. is born.


    1. 1953: Martin Luther King Jr. marries Coretta Scott.


    1. 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. leads a strike for sanitation workers by marching in Memphis. He delivers his famous “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated while standing on the balcony of his hotel room.

  Twinkl Tip: This teacher-created task would also work well as a revision activity at the end of your lessons on Martin Luther King Jr. Use it to test your children’s knowledge of the key events in his life. You could even get your students to work in pairs and select one event from the Printable Martin Luther King Jr. Timeline to research on. They can present their findings back to the class. This is super great for reinforcing knowledge on the topic!

What resources can I use alongside this Printable MLK Timeline?


    • Civil Disobedience Reading Comprehension Activity — This activity includes lots of challenging key vocabulary to put your children’s decoding and contextual understanding skills to the test!


    • Picture Timeline of Martin Luther King Jr. Activity — Similar to this timeline activity, your kids will consider how events in history occur, but they will need to cut out and paste the different events in the correct order. This will help solidify their knowledge and understanding of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.


    • Martin Luther King Jr. Quote Reflection Activity — Here you’ll find several famous Martin Luther King Jr. quotes that your children will be asked to reflect on.


What are three benefits of using timeline activities for kids?

  1. They offer children bitesize chunks of history, summing up the most important part of an event in a succinct way, making it more palatable for kids to engage with and understand.
  2. Timelines act as essential tools for navigating through the key moments of history. They create a basic structure for children to visualize a general picture of events, and how time works. It’s no surprise that the concept of time is abstract to many youngsters, but a timeline is super helpful in their comprehension of time in general.
  3. They also provide a way to see how cause and effect dominate the course of history. There is always a link between events and turning points in history, a lot more than we would initially realize. Situations are interconnected, and timelines help your young learners recognize how an event that happened back in the 1960s, is the product of another event that occurred in the 1930s!

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Martin Luther King

The Montgomery bus boycott is not only a national beacon of hope against racism, it also produces the civil rights movement’s most powerful leader, Martin Luther King Jr. The 26-year-old pastor of a Baptist church in Montgomery becomes the leader of the boycott. In 1957, he and other clergy found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and become its president. King’s ideals are deeply rooted in Christianity. He steadfastly believes in justice and reconciliation. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, he will fight non-violently but powerfully against racism. King fascinates people with his charismatic speeches. Hundreds of thousands join his now nationwide protests. With demonstrations, protest marches, sit-ins and other forms of civil resistance, they fight for equal rights for blacks and whites. They are beaten up and imprisoned for it. Many are killed. But white supremacist violence against peaceful protesters is shaking up the public. Politicians must react.

The “I have a dream” speech

President John F. Kennedy is the great bearer of hope. In June 1963, he passes a bill into Congress that would abolish racial discrimination nationwide. King’s goal is within reach. To further raise public awareness of the problem of racial discrimination and pressure conservative members of Congress, the civil rights movement organizes a march on Washington. On August 28, 1963, more than 200,000 Americans from every state march on the capital for equality. “I have a dream that one day, on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveholders can sit together at the table of brotherhood… I have a dream, today!” With these words Martin Luther King speaks to the demonstrators in his famous speech “I have a dream” and moves a whole nation. The event becomes a triumph for the charismatic preacher and the non-violent resistance.

Malcolm X

“Who ever heard of a revolution where they walk arm in arm singing ‘We shall overcome’? There’s nothing like that in any revolution. You don’t get to sing because you’re too busy swinging your fists.” Malcolm X, King’s greatest critic, speaks for the black slum dwellers of America’s North. They have already come a long way from the cotton fields. Segregation does not officially exist in the North, but lack of educational opportunities, unemployment, housing shortages and poverty continue to exclude the black population from society. For Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam (NoI), of which he is the most popular representative, one thing is certain: whites are devils. In order to experience justice, blacks must wage their own struggle, with violence if necessary. The goal is not integration, but the establishment of an independent African-American society. In 1964, Malcolm X separated from the NoI. Following a pilgrimage to Mecca, during which he was deeply impressed by the brotherhood among different skin colors, he moved away more and more from black nationalism. However, it is not enough to build a bridge to the civil rights movement under King, since Malcolm X still sees violence as a legitimate means. But he is well aware that, as the bogeyman of the Americans, he is driving many into the arms of Martin Luther King. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X is shot at a meeting.

Dream over?

The successes of the civil rights movement are great. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson promulgates the law desegregating the country. In 1965, a new voting law goes into effect. Above all, the harassment during voter registration, such as writing and reading tests, is to be stopped. But even King has to realize that the creation of new laws cannot really change the situation of blacks. What good is it to be allowed to dine in a room with whites if you don’t have the money to pay for the food? Thus, in addition to racism, the issues of poverty and war become the content of his protest. He also demands human rights for all skin colors, no longer just civil rights for blacks. The expansion of his struggle leads to criticism from within his own ranks. In the White House, he is declared an undesirable person. At the same time, inspired by Malcolm X, a black nationalist movement is formed. Black Power rejects nonviolence and further splinters King’s band of followers. On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King is shot. The already battered American civil rights movement cannot overcome this loss. The great time of its struggle is over. It has achieved a great deal, but King’s dream is still not a reality today. In 2008, when Barack Obama is the first black candidate to run for president, Martin Luther King’s son says: “A black man in the White House is not the fulfillment of his dream. Maybe a part of it. His dream won’t come true until all Americans have health insurance, all have equal access to good schools, to jobs, to affordable housing.” Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Junior fought peacefully against racial segregation in the United States. To this day, his “I Have a Dream” speech is known around the world. Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Read his story here

Profile: Martin Luther King

  • Name: Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Born: January 15, 1929 in Atlanta
  • Died: on April 4, 1968 in Memphis
  • Nationality: US
  • Parents: Alberta Christine Williams King (1904 – 1974) and Michael King sr. (1899 – 1984)
  • Quote: “‘True charity is more than the capacity for compassion, it is the capacity for affection.'”

Martin Luther King Jr. was a human rights activist and campaigned for the abolition of racial segregation in the United States. Today, Martin Luther King is considered a martyr – for the sake of his faith and his dreams, he accepted death.

How Martin Luther King lived

Martin Luther King Junior was born on January 15, 1929 under the name Michael King Junior in Atlanta, USA. During a trip to Europe, his father later had his son’s name changed. In doing so, he honored Martin Luther, the instigator of the Reformation in the 16th century. Martin Luther King Junior grew up in a very religious family; his mother was a teacher, his father a pastor in a Protestant congregation. During his lifetime, racial segregation was still a big issue in the U.S.: Black people were marginalized and had hardly any rights. They had to attend separate schools, were not allowed to ride on a bus with whites, eat in the same restaurant or work in the same workplace. Martin Luther King Junior, like his father, was strictly against racism. The fact that he was not allowed to have contact with his longtime white friend after elementary school moved King Jr. to stand up for the rights of his fellow countrymen. Even as a child, he gave lectures and appeared as an assistant preacher in his father’s congregation. In 1948 he completed a degree in sociology (the science of human social behavior), followed in 1951 by postgraduate studies in theology (the doctrine of God). Then Martin Luther King began to work as a pastor in Montgomery/Alabama. At the same time, he also married his longtime girlfriend Coretta Scott Williams, with whom he had a total of four children.

How Martin Luther King changed the world

Protests against segregation first began in the mid-fifties. In Montgomery, King’s home, blacks refused to give up their seats on the bus in favor of whites. Martin Luther King, then 26 years old, was appointed leader of a group that organized the so-called boycott (a kind of political leverage, in this case the renunciation of the use of all public transportation): the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The protests lasted 381 days – and were successful: the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation on public transportation was henceforth prohibited. Because Martin Luther King Junior wanted to devote himself even more intensively to civil rights, he quit his job in Montgomery and moved back to Atlanta to live with his father. Now he could afford to travel the American South to give speeches and organize more peaceful protests. Several times King was arrested, but released upon the intervention of then-President John F. Kennedy.

Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”

His unwavering courage to stand up for the rights of black people was met with great enthusiasm in society. A small group had become a large movement: On Aug. 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people, including whites, took part in a peaceful demonstration in Washington, D.C. The “March on Washington” counts as the culmination of civil rights protests. At this demonstration, Martin Luther King also gave what is probably his most important speech: “I have a dream”, which has gone down in history. After this protest march on Washington, J. Edgar Hoover, the then head of the FBI, began intensively spying on Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists in order to ultimately destroy the civil rights movement. Monument to Martin Luther King © Colourbox

The assassination of Martin Luther King

But his will to strengthen the rights of black people finally found favor in the USA. There was a spirit of optimism in the USA. The young President John F. Kennedy met with Martin Luther King and the desegregation law was passed. John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, but his successor Lyndon Johnson carried out the plan. On July 2, 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed. For this, King received the Nobel Peace Prize in the same year and was named “Man of the Year” by the American news magazine Time. But his success did not please everyone. On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was shot dead – probably by white racists – with a single shot on the balcony of a small motel in Memphis. When the death of Martin Luther King became known, large riots broke out all over the USA, in which 40 people died. Houses burned, stores were looted. “Burn, Baby, Burn,” was the rioters’ slogan, “We must avenge the murder of Dr. King.”

And today?

After his death, King was not only awarded several prizes, he is considered by Americans and blacks worldwide as a martyr, i.e. a person who accepts his own death because of his faith. Martin Luther King’s Day is celebrated on the third Monday in January. For many US-Americans this is a legal commemoration and holiday. Politicians, athletes, philosophers and more – every day we encounter numerous names and faces. The series is dedicated to such famous personalities.  

World changer

Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela is considered a symbolic figure for freedom and justice. According to the motto “The struggle is my life”, he successfully campaigned for the rights of black people in Africa. On December 5, 2013, he passed away #issues.

  • World changer
  • America
  • Women’s Rights

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