Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

Welcome to the first reading in our new series on “Readings that Matter”. This series is adapted from a set of readings that Acumen’s Fellows and staff discuss on a regular basis as part of our leadership training and development.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere…”

We have chosen to start with Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” because the themes are particularly relevant today. As we become more interconnected as a world, we see a growing sense of otherness and awareness of injustices. This is not only true in the United States but also across the world. Through a systematic reading and discussion of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” with a group of people you know, you will explore his arguments, dissect his masterful use of rhetoric, and we hope, come to a better understanding of where you stand on the various ideas he shares.

Photo: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR, sitting in the Jefferson County Jail, in Birmingham, Alabama, 11/3/67. Photo by Wyatt Tee Walker/Everett Collection/CSU Archives

You'll Love This Course If

  • You’re a leader or aspiring leader looking to learn from a master of moral imagination with the humility to see the world as it is and the audacity to imagine what it could be.
  • You’re looking to learn powerful techniques to confront injustice and speak truth to power.
  • You enjoy discussing issues of justice, leadership, and the systems in which we live.

How The Course Works

There are no in-person teachers or facilitators for this course. This 1-module course is probably more akin to a book club. Its power comes from the group’s experience of the reading and discussion. We strongly encourage you take this course with a group, but you can also take it individually.

  • Get a group of people together.  We recommend starting with 3-5 people you know – your friends, family, classmates, or colleagues.
  • Have each person you invite sign up individually here to receive the reading and discussion guide.
  • Your group session will work best if someone takes the lead as a facilitator.  We’ve made this easy by providing a full facilitator’s guide (including email templates to invite your friends) which will be emailed to you upon registration.
  • Set a date to meet in-person (recommended) or online.

To start, we suggest setting aside 1 hour to read the letter and then 2 hours for your group’s discussion.  From past experience, if your group is larger it is more likely that you won’t get through the entire reading in that time. Because of this we have made the course materials available on demand so you don’t have to complete them in one sitting.

Frequently Asked Questions

WILL A CERTIFICATE BE AWARDED UPON COMPLETION OF THE COURSE?

We will provide a Statement of Accomplishment for individuals that complete all requirements. The requirements for this course include 1) going through the reading 2) completing a designated assignment

IF I TAKE THIS COURSE IN A GROUP, DO MY GROUP MEMBERS NEED TO BE IN THE SAME LOCATION?

We recommend signing up with a group that is all physically located in the same place. Much of the value of this course derives from the in-person, peer-to-peer learning that happens between group members. With that said, we have had groups cover many of the group discussions over Skype or Google+ hangouts so it is possible to have a remote group.

Remember, all members of your group need to register for this course individually.

HOW MUCH TIME DO I NEED TO DEDICATE TO TAKE THIS COURSE?

This is an Acumen Short Course. You should be able to complete the whole thing in 4 hours. We have intentionally designed these courses to be shorter and manageable so that you can fit them into your busy schedule. There will still be hands on exercises and informative readings, but if you want a more intensive learning experience, you might want to check out Acumen’s longer courses.

WHAT IS THE IDEAL SIZE FOR MY GROUP?

We generally recommend a group of 3 to 5 individuals. If your group is too big, it can be more difficult to coordinate schedules and conduct discussion together.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TAKE THIS COURSE?

All +Acumen courses are free.

ARE THERE ANY PREREQUISITES FOR TAKING THIS COURSE?

This is an introductory course and there are no prerequisites.

MORE QUESTIONS?

Please contact course@plusacumen.org

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