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MLK Day Lesson Plan

Langston Hughes is poet who grew up under Jim Crow laws just like the character Cassie in Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor.
He published his first book of poems in 1926, just seven years before Cassie’s story takes place. He wrote about how things were and what he could dream of. In some ways, he set the stage for people like Martin Luther King, Jr. who spoke about his dreams about 40 years later.

King wrote:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

(From “I have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered in Washington, DC, August 28, 1963.)

Hughes also wrote of dreams in his poems. The following poems appear in The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (pages 2, 4, and 57.) Read them aloud several times.

The Dream Keeper

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamers,
Bring me all of your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough finders
Of the world.



Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Dream Variation

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
  Dark like me—
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening. . . .
A tall, slim tree. . . .
Night coming tenderly
  Black like me.


See if you can find other poems that have to do with dreams. What is Hughes dreaming about?



1.      Memorize two of the dream poems .

2.      Write out one of the dream poems and make an illustration that fits

         the poem.

3.      Write your own dream poem. What do you dream of? Try to use the

         poet’s tools to create your poem.

4.      Think of Cassie or from Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry or a character

         from another book. What does the character dream about or hope

         for? Write a poem in the character’s voice, telling about her/his