Memphis teacher uses interactive civics lesson to connect MLK’s work to today

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The iconic I Am A Man signs were front and center in the 1968 sanitation worker's strike that was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Because he fight for our civil rights and not only did he fight for, but he did not give up and that helps me every time," a LaRose Elementary student said.

One teacher wanted to use King's example as a lesson in civics and to drive home how his life's work connects to today.

"So I wanted to give a lesson of what was happening back here in Memphis why Martin Luther King was here when he was assassinated ... what was happening and how that connects to today," he said.

The students at LaRose Elementary held their own march and applied King's mission for social justice to today.

The focus: I Am A Man tied with the "Fight for 15" for higher wages.

"This project is about us helping people around the world, working with the Fight for 15 federation to help people who are not paid fairly," the student said

"Because at food places and restaurants they are getting $7, and that is not enough to feed your children ... and we're fighting for the 15 to get $15 an hour," another student said.

"I like that because its like fighting for 15 like he said, they are fighting for us," a third student said.

Students designed their own signs, each with a personal meaning.

"I was just going to go with 'survivor,' but I had messed up so I was like if I can come up with something that says survivor. I can came up with 'savior,' so that's why I had picked this word."

"Well my stuff says 'I am important,' and I put important because I think everybody is important."

"I Am A Man" — a phrase that has become synonymous with human rights — and a lesson learned from history that students can apply to today.

"I want all our children to have all the opportunities that they can. I want them to be aware of the challenges and what they will be facing when they grow up, and I want them to be aware of people who are fighting to take on those challenges."