Teach This Poem: “won’t you celebrate with me” by Lucille Clifton

Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.

Featured Poem

Martin Luther King, Jr., Montgomery, Alabama

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dan Weiner (1919–1959). Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Transfer from the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Beinecke Fund.

Classroom Activities

  1. Show your class the photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Ask them to write down what they notice about the way he is posed, about the look on his face. If they write down an interpretation (for instance, “He looks like he is thinking”), ask them to provide evidence from the photograph that supports this.
  2. Have a whole-class discussion about who Martin Luther King, Jr., was and what happened to him.  Why do your students think he looks the way he does in this photograph?
  3. Project the poem “won’t you celebrate with me” by Lucille Clifton in front the class, so all your students can see it. Ask your students to write down what they find interesting in the words, phrases, and structure of the poem. Ask a student to read the poem aloud to the class. Ask the listening students to add new words and phrases that they hear to what they have written. Repeat this process with a second student reading the poem aloud.
  4. Ask your students to gather in small groups and share what they noticed about the poem and how it is written. Remind them to use evidence from the poem when making an interpretation.
  5. Hold another whole-class discussion: What do both the photograph and the poem remind us of? Why is this important to remember in today’s world?