Thursday, October 27, 2011

Assignment Three: King's Speeches in Historical Context

Due Date:  See syllabus

Assignment Goal

For this essay students will create an essay that explains Martin Luther King, Jr's theory of non-violence. Students will explain what they believe were the main elements of the theory, and describe how that theory worked in practice. To describe how it worked, students will research three of King's most famous Civil Rights campaigns: the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Birmingham march, and the Poor People's campaign. These marches will provide students with their critical examples of King's theory.

Assignment Description

King had an evolving sense of his non-violence theory of civil disobedience. He discussed his theory in the context of voter registration, civil rights, human rights, acts of white terrorism, the Christian religion, Vietnam, capitalism, and many other topics. Some of his theory grew of Gandhi and Thoreau; students should note any references in the reading these topics and figures.

For the essay, students will be expected to identify keywords and themes in his speeches, to trace themes across speeches, and to be able to connect those themes to the marches mentioned above. Each paragraph might refer to how one of King's major themes appeared in one of those marches. Each theme might thus be expressed in different ways during different marches.

In their critical thinking, students are strongly encouraged to find links between King's ideas, what took place in the marches, and the previous texts we've looked at in class (When I Was a Slave, Southern Horrors).

Students will discover how to research these campaigns during the library visit on October 27. 

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