Singing MLK Day Into Existence

“As an artist, my purpose is to communicate the message that can better improve the lives of all of us.” – Stevie Wonder

This month, discover how Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” song became an international hit in 1981 and helped establish the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday with TeachRock lesson plans for Elementary, Middle, and High School classrooms. 

With these engaging TeachRock resources from our media-rich CNN Soundtracks: Songs that Defined History lesson collection, you can analyze a timeline of events surrounding the establishment of MLK Day, read excerpts from the U.S. Constitution, examine the constitutional process for enacting legislation, and view video clips detailing MLK Day history. Additionally, a student-facing version of these resources is available as a slide deck for streamlined classroom instruction or independent student exploration. With all of these resources, students will:

  • Explore the history to enact the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday 
  • Discover the origins and purpose of Stevie Wonder’s song, “Happy Birthday”
  • Examine the powers and roles of the Legislative and Executive branches in the process to enact laws in the United States
  • Identify how the United States Constitution established the federal system of government and its related institutions
  • Determine how to participate in a MLK Day of Service 

Watch this video from the TeachRock lessons highlighting the history of Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” song.