How would you have fared as a civil rights activist in 1961? Would you have sat by the sidelines as other students stood up for their freedoms? Or would you have added your voice to the cause – and faced the consequences?
To celebrate Martin Luther King Day, DoSomething.org has created an immersive text message game that transports young people back to racially segregated America. Teens, who have grown up in a much more integrated country, are forced to confront the difficult decisions faced by young people in that era – and to measure their own commitment to the cause of equality against the direct action that people took then.
To play the game, users text MLK to 38383. They are then sent through scenarios that put them in the shoes of young students, based on real life civil rights events. You can “play” as either a 22 year old black male, or a 19 year old white female. Either way, you are faced with hard choices. Do you join one of the famous integrated freedom rides, or just watch the them on TV? Do you participate in a march on Washington, or spread the activist spirit at school?
To reinforce its message, the game includes multimedia sound and images from the era. As you consider the freedom rides, you receive a picture from the rides. When a waitress threatens to deny you service because of the color of your skin, you’re confronted with an image of an actual “Whites Only” sign. And every game concludes with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, epochal “I Have a Dream” speech.
By giving teens a brief glimpse into the choices that a teenager would face in the 1960s, the game provokes today’s young people to think of how challenging the journey towards equality has been. And the game leaves you with a reminder that the journey is not yet over.
Text MLK to 38383 to play the game now. And watch Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech below.