Create an Obama Poster for MLK Day

Grade Range: 1-8

Class time: 2 hours – 3 days (can be differentiated)

Subject Areas:  History / Social Studies, ELA, Art, and Technology 

Overview: Students will engage with MLK in a variety of different ways before creating their own ‘Obama Hope’ poster.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Resources

Martin Luther King Jr. Day events in Middle Tennessee | News |

Below is a youtube video from PBSNews that is a nice overview of MLK day and student engagement (from 2011)

  • This is a great, short lesson about Ruby Bridges from Stanford University
Ruby Bridges, age six, with a wide smile on her face.

Day of Service

MLK is a day of service, have your student discuss what service means and how they can be of service to others in our modern, covid impacted world. Check out this info from the Ameri Corps.

Have younger students draw a picture of the service they provided to someone in their family. Older students can write a short descriptive essay explaining what they did and how it helped another person.

Below is a short video from President Obama from 2015 talking about MLK Day of Service

Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama

Two Visions of Justice: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama - ABC  Religion & Ethics

Design and Create

Barack Obama "Hope" poster - Wikipedia
  • The iconic HOPE poster designed by artist Shepard Fairey is recognizable around the world. Learn more about the poster here.
  • The style of the poster has been recreated with other historical figures with other statements. Below is an example of a MLK ‘hope’ poster.
A Tribute to The Dreamer – Martin Luther King Jr. Art | Black lives matter  art, Jr art, Martin luther king jr


  • Have you students talk about what HOPE and DREAM mean to them.
  • Make a list of other words that inspire change for the better good.
  • Have each student choose their favorite word from the list.
  • Have you students take a ‘presidential’ picture (encourage them to dress up!)
  • Use for each student to create their own poster and screen shot it to share with the group.

FABLAB If we had access to our fab lab, we could use the laser cutter to engrave the posters into a piece of wood for students to make into magnets, or to display. We could also print out the posters to create buttons!

Extension Activities:

After the students design their symbol it is up to the teacher to expand on the activity the following are some ideas that would work.  Please let the MFL team know if you think of anything that should be added to this list!

ART: have students print out their photo in black and white and color it with red and blue to match Shepard Fairey’s style.

HISTORY:  Focus on MLKs mission and how it lives on today.

MATH: Have students look up the crowd numbers for MLK speeches and Barack Obama’s speeches (or other polital/historical figures) Have them create a ratio of attendance.

ELA:   There are countless books about MLK out there and writing exercises for students of all grades to engage with!

Please take pictures of the work you do after the MFL visit and send them to the MFL team along with any anecdotal information about who the project went.  Or, if you combine a few of the extensions and have the students present their work, please invite the MFL team!