Martin Luther King: „Ich habe einen Traum”

Click on the picture above or on this link to download this handout.
Click on the picture above or on this link to download this handout.

Martin Luther King was the courageous and charismatic leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the 1960s. His strategy of non-violent protest and civil disobedience helped to break down the entrenched racism and segregation policies that were still prevalent at that time in the southern states of the USA. Through demonstrations against unjust and racist laws, he and his supporters aimed to bring other Americans to the realization that the promises in the “Declaration of Independence” had never been fulfilled.

During the Civil Rights movement, the blacks in the South boycotted the buses on which they had had to give up their seats for white passengers. They organized “sit-ins” in places they were not allowed to visit, such as all-white cafés and restaurants. They marched for freedom, and the peoples of the world watched with horror as they were attacked by police dogs and squirted with fire hoses.

The Washington March in 1963 was one of the most memorable moments in this story. Over 200,000 people marched for the freedom and equality they should have had by right of their birth in the “Land of the Free”. 

On this page you can undertake several activities that will help you to learn about Martin Luther King in German. You will encounter the German words for describing a person’s birth, life and death, but also the central words from Martin Luther King’s inspiring story: “human rights”, “equal rights” and of course the famous sentence: “I have a dream”.

Below is a digital version of the Memory Game you may already have played in class. It will help you to memorize the vocabulary you need to know in order to read, write and talk about Martin Luther King in German. Some of the words will be familiar. Work from those you know to the less familiar words and you will find it easy to match up the pairs.

The fill-the-gap text below is based on a text read in class (see the second handout above). Without looking at that text, see how many words you can correctly select from the options given.

The link below will lead you to an account of Martin Luther King’s life, work and famous speech that is longer and much harder than the texts read in class. Treat this text like a little treasure hunt. In each paragraph, as numbered below, see if you find the following words and information. Then check your answers at the bottom of this page.

Kindernetz – Martin Luther King

Worksheet for this activity – download here

  • Paragraph 1: Word meaning wishes
  • Paragraph 2: Verb for dreamed – past tense
  • Paragraph 3: A place other than schools where blacks suffered from discrimination
  • Paragraph 4: Wo wurde die Demonstration organisiert?
  • Paragraph 5: The word for speech
  • Paragraph 6: The verb for to demonstrate
  • Paragraph 7: The word for the right to vote
  • Paragraph 8: The word for equal
  • Paragraph 9: In welchem Jahr wurde Martin Luther King ermordet?
  • Paragraph 10: The word for racism
  • Paragraph 11: The word for President
  • Paragraph 12: An welchem Tag feiert man “Martin Luther King Day”?
The crossword below checks your memory for the German vocabulary and the historical events summarised in the handouts and on this page.

Answers to questions based on Kindernetz article:
1 Wünsche
2 träumte
3 Kinos – cinemas
4 Washington
5 Rede
6 demonstieren
7 Wahlrecht
8 gleich
9 1968
10 Rassismus
11 Präsident
12 am dritten Montag im Januar

Other sites with texts in German about Martin Luther King:



  • der Traum – dream
  • das Leben – life
  • die Rede – speech
  • der Präsident – president
  • der Mensch – human being
  • das Recht – right
  • Menschenrechte (Pluralform) – human rights
  • der Junge – boy
  • das Mädchen – girl
  • die Schule – school
  • das Kino – cinema
  • der Rassismus – racism
  • der Wunsch – wish
  • der Redner – speaker
  • der Pastor – pastor
  • der Bus
  • die Welt – world
  • der Charakter
  • die Hautfarbe – skin colour



  • gleich – equal
  • schwarz – black
  • weiß – white
  • frei – free
  • weltberühmt – world-famous

  • träumen – to dream
  • demonstrieren – to demonstrate
  • sagen – to say
  • reden – to talk, speak
  • wollen – to want
  • leben – to live
  • wohnen – to live
  • organisieren – to organize
  • ermorden – to murder
  • sterben – to die
  • sitzen – to sit
  • aufstehen – to stand up
  • müssen – to have to
  • verdienen – to earn

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