"Yes We Can" "Tear Down this Wall"

Today we looked at the power of words as shown by a couple of our most notable presidents: President Barack Obama and President Ronald Reagan.  Prior to looking at President Obama’s “Yes We Can” campaign speech, the students shared what they already knew about him and were informed of more of his background.

We discussed the ways in which President Obama’s speaking style emulates that of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. and how it differs from it.  Thereafter, we talked about President Ronald Reagan, his notable moments as president, and some background information with regard to his “Tear Down this Wall” speech at the Berlin Wall toward the end of the Cold War.


The students were then challenged to write a speech as if they were running for President of the United States.  Most students were to start on this for homework.

“If I Were President”

TASK: Write a first draft of a speech in which you will state the issues you would tackle as president, why you think they are important issues, and what solutions you have to resolve these issues.  Your goal is to be persuasive and to use facts and examples to support your points.



Dr. King's Dream

So much has changed in the landscape of America, and much of it has been propelled by the efforts of our youth.

Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.’s tireless work to end segregation along with that of many other notable Civil Rights Leaders, many of whom lived and still live in Atlanta, has changed the way in which our children are able to learn.  Not only are they able to be immersed in more diverse situations and environments, but a precedent was set to uphold the rights bestowed upon all of us as residents and citizens of the United States of America.

Today’s lesson was based upon Dr. King’s dream.  After watching the video below, which literally brought his words to life, the students discussed the significance of his words, his work, and of how it has an effect upon each of them.


After an in-depth discussion of the impact of this speech, we looked at key passages within it to discuss the sheer mastery of Dr. King’s writing.  He used examples of metaphor such as, “this momentous decree [The Emancipation Proclamation] came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.”  Furthermore, he made specific references and allusions to The Gettysburg Address, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, and iconic songs such as “Free at Last” and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee(meaning here).

The lesson was summarized with a quick sharing of the points discussed in class that were thought to be the most poignant.


  • “Dr. King’s Dream”
    • Write a letter to Dr. King (as if he were still alive) telling him how his “I Have a Dream” speech has had an impact on your life.  Cite specific evidence from the speech itself.
  • Study the Lesson 9 vocabulary words from “Vocabulary from Classical Roots”