In April, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for marching in Birmingham, Alabama. While in jail, Dr. King wrote a letter to eight white religious leaders in the south in response to a statement they wrote about strategies used during the civil rights movement in Birmingham. This lesson evaluates the impact of King's Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Brainstorm what you know about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.
What were the goals of the civil rights movement in the 1960s?
Explain the concept of segregation and the events leading up to the civil rights movement.
Have students watch each video clip, have them use the following handout to take notes on important people, vocabulary and main points made by the speakers.
Have them keep in mind the effectiveness of Dr. King's letter in ending segregation both in Birmingham and nationally.
Handout: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail (Google Doc)
Video Clip 1: Introduction to Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail (1:38)
Video Clip 2: Lead Up to King's Arrest in Birmingham, AL (3:40)
Video Clip 3: The Issue of Moderates in King's Letter from Birmingham Jail (2:49)
Video Clip 4: Complacency in King's Letter from Birmingham Jail (2:47)
Video Clip 5: The Poetry of King's Letter from Birmingham Jail (2:28)
Video Clip 6: Clarence Jones on Letter from Birmingham Jail (1:57)
Video Clip 7: King and the Media (3:36)
Using their notes, have the students discuss the major events and points in the clips as a class.
Address any misconceptions.
Using evidence from the clips and the actual Letter from Birmingham Jail (UPENN Website) respond to the following writing prompt:
Timeline- Have the students create a timeline of the events involved in Birmingham during the civil rights movement.
Modern Letter- Have the students write a letter similar in style and purpose to the Letter from Birmingham Jail but from the perspective of people fighting for equal rights today.