Lesson Plan

Making a Change: Letter From Birmingham Jail

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter From Birmingham Jail" was written in response to "A Call for Unity," written by eight white ministers from Birmingham and published in the local newspaper. After reading both letters and following a list of questions, pupils discuss King's points in his letter.

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CCSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas
  • Have class members brainstorm a list of laws today that they feel are unjust, have individuals select one, and explain why they feel the law is unjust
  • Then have the class select one of the laws and, using King's four basic steps, design a nonviolent campaign to change the law
  • Have learners select one of the discussion questions to use as a prompt for a reflective essay
Classroom Considerations
  • Requires copies, one per pupil, of the "Letter From Birmingham Jail" and "A Call for Unity"
Pros
  • A close reading of King's letter provides learners with the basis for his vision for the civil rights movement
  • A close reading of "A Case for Unity" gives learners an insight into the kind of resistance the civil rights movement faced
Cons
  • None