March 03, 2016

Letter from a Birmingham Jail


Howard Kaplan & Tiffany Middleton

Program Overview

This session presents an interactive, primary-source based workshop for social studies teachers that draws upon one of the presenters’ instructional article, “The Rule of Law and Civil Disobedience: The Case Behind King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” This article was published in the May/June 2013 issue of NCSS’s Social Education magazine, as part of the American Bar Association’s “Looking at the Law” feature. In exploring the story of the events behind King’s essay, and the Supreme Court case that resulted, Walker v. Birmingham, 399 U.S. 307 (1967), social studies educators will find a pedagogically powerful lens through which to review the events in Birmingham and consider the relationship between civil disobedience and the rule of law. 

Session Materials

Timeline of Key Events

Set of Small Group Handouts: Excerpted Primary-Source Texts

The Rule of Law and Disobedience: The Case Behind King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail article from May/June 2013 Social Education, by Howard Kaplan

“Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

“Public Statement” by eight white Alabama clergymen/photos/injunction document

“Dr. King, Bull Connor, and Persuasive Narratives” (Shaun Spencer)

Common Core and CS3 Handouts

"Case Behind Letter from a Birmingham Jail" power point presentation

Video clip from the Newseum