Jan 18, 2016

Five Course Lectures on MLK's Letter To a Birmingham Jail

In the online World Views and Values course that I developed - and still teach on occasion - for Marist College, the thinker who I chose to close out the 10-week class with was Martin Luther King, Jr.. The course, by design, centered on issues such as the human person, moral norms and development, politics and society, culture and education, freedom and fate, inequalities and equality, as well as the nature of the greater reality within which the entire human sphere is situated.

I chose to make the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" the central text for that final week's study, supplemented by the "I Have a Dream" speech.  These selections were deliberate, not only because both documents articulate key themes and arguments of King's overall critical approach to American racism and justice, but also for a different reason.  They're both widely referenced, and occasionally quoted from, but (at least in my experience) rarely read by the current crop of students in the present.

When I primarily taught face-to-face classes, I'd occasionally refer to the "Letter From a Birmingham Jail," and often encounter blank looks, so I began to routinely ask classes whether they had read - or even been assigned - that work in high school.  Although students were generally aware that it was something a person should read, very few of them actually had read it, let alone discussed it, or given it close study.  This was the case, rather surprisingly, even with my students at Fayetteville State University, a historically black university in North Carolina.

In any case, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, I'm providing links to the five course videos here, and linking to some additional resources - handouts I've developed - that might prove useful or interesting as well.

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