The Letter from Birmingham Jail is one of the most significant pieces of American literature of the twentieth century. Begin by reading the three letters on Canvas. Two from Birmingham clergymen – from January 1963 and April 1963. Then read King’s reply.
Answer questions, 3-4 pages.
- What is the social and historical context of these letters? (hint, read the text book, but you might also want to watch the Eyes on the Prize video too.)
- What coded language do you see in any of the letters from the pastors? How does Dr. King reply to those codes?
- How do the pastors understand justice and obedience? How does Dr. King?
- Though these are letters and not sermons, they are still church proclamations – and they have intended goals or aims. Thus, they function similarly to Wunderli’s position on sermons. Given that, how might the pastors’ letters (take the two letters together) a “tool for social control”? How might Dr. King’s letter likewise be a tool for social control – or to undermine it?