By Deanna Hurn, Founder and Executive Director of Miracle Math Coaching

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a civil rights legend and American hero whose legacy we celebrate next week.  He dedicated his life to fighting injustice and advancing the cause of equal opportunity for all without using violence.

We all know about his magnificent “I Have a Dream” speech, given in 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  But there is so much more to know about him.

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Here are five facts about King (including one about the speech) to discuss with your child, using Math problems to highlight his life. (What can I say? I’m a Math fanatic 🙂

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January 15, 1929, the son of a Baptist minister and a housewife who served as music director of their church – Ebeneezer Baptist in Atlanta.  Wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps, King, Jr. was ordained as a minister in 1948.  He led his first protest against inequality 15 years later in Montgomery, Alabama.

How old was Dr. King when he was ordained as a minister?  What year did he lead a protest for the first time, and how old was he?

  1. Dr. King dedicated himself to ensuring that everyone in society was treated the same. The first protest he led was a massive boycott of the Montgomery Bus Line.  The boycott lasted from December 5, 1955 to December 20, 1956.  Until the protest, the bus company forbid African American bus riders from sitting in the front of buses with white bus riders.  

How many days did the boycott last?  

  1. His organizing strategies, unmatched leadership and eternal passion motivated people around the world to fight for justice and equality. King gave more than 2,500 speeches between 1957 and his death in 1968.  

To find out how many miles he traveled during that time, subtract two million miles from the diameter of the Earth.

  1. King’s most powerful and enduring achievements was leading “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” on August 28, 1963.  More than 250,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in one of the largest political rally for civil rights and equality in United States history.

Dr. King delivered a speech called “I Have a Dream,” considered one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century.  Surprisingly, the written version of his speech did not include the phrase “I Have a Dream.”  He only added the phrase after putting aside his written remarks and speaking from his heart. 


Watch & Listen to the speech online. How many times does Dr. King say, “I Have a Dream?”

  1. In 1968, the year Dr. King was killed, his widow Coretta Scott King established the King Center for Non-Violent Social Change.  Based in Atlanta, the Center highlights his immense accomplishments and immeasurable contribution to the advancement of civil rights.  The King Center houses more 1 million documents related to Dr. King’s life and work.

How many of those documents can you and your child see in this online archive if 20 percent of the 1 million total are online here?  

Among the documents are photos, telegrams, sermons, college papers, programs of events (including the one from the March on Washington) notes, business cards and letters – those typed and handwritten by Dr. King and those from royalty, presidents, ordinary citizens and even children to Dr. King.

I am in awe of his achievements and how his work has impacted who we are as a nation today. I’m so glad to be able to use Math to share these facts about Dr. King’s life and legacy.

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