MLK was leading a demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama where it was forbidden to make demonstrations. This was the first time King had decided to break the law for he believed that the law was unjust. While incarcerated he wrote a letter in reply to a letter published about accusations made on him in the Birmingham Post Herald.
James Patterson provides an overview of the movement, reminding us that the roots lay in the early twentieth century with the founding of the NAACP and the National Urban League and that efforts to secure equality continued through the 1940s and the postwar years. Patterson shows the variety of arenas in which the modern civil rights movement operated, from the courtrooms and legislative halls of the nation to the streets of Birmingham and the highways of Alabama and Mississippi.
By examining King’s famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in defense of nonviolent protest, along with two significant criticisms of his direct action campaign, this lesson will help students assess various alternatives for securing civil rights for black Americans in a self-governing society. (Duration: 3 class periods)
The Core Documents Collection – Documents and Debates is structured around a series of topics, each based on a question for debate. For each topic, there is a collection of documents that, together, form the basis of argument over that topic – from those who debated it at a given point in American history. Volume One covers 1865-2009.
The goal is to explore a series of critical moments in American history by asking questions for which there are not simple yes/no answers, but instead call for informed discussion and rational debate. The Documents and Debates readers also include appendices of additional documents, and together are a perfect fit for any American History survey course, including AP U.S. History.