In English Composition courses, I usually assign Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” I’ve heard from students that they really appreciate having that reading included. My students also respond very strongly to “Learning to Read and Write” by Frederick Douglass.
It’s possible to listen to MLK read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” which is especially useful in an online-learning environment. Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute has other excellent resources and curriculum suggestions.
Ned Stuckey-French provides fantastic analysis and context of Martin Luther King’s “Letter” here.
Thank you to Nancy Peck for suggesting the inclusion of original source documents. You can access MLK’s documents through http://thekingcenter.org/archive.
For contemporary and current resources, this NPR report is a useful start: “Ferguson in the Classroom: How One College Took Up Race and Policing This Semester.” The November 2015 NPR report discusses this NYU class developed by Professor Frank Leon Roberts. You can find Roberts’s #blacklivesmatter syllabus and other resources here.
In additition, here is a link to “13 Significant Books on Civil Rights for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”
For creative writing courses, and departments, it’s essential to consider Claudia Rankine’s keynote address at AWP/LA (2016). Rankine adapted that address into an essay for The Writer’s Chronicle, found here. Rankine’s masterpiece Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf) should be considered essential reading.
Please also consult the Syllabus on Black Feminism from Melissa Harris-Perry, here.
Here at Assay, you will find our resources and pedagogy articles useful. Here are a few suggestions:
On James Baldwin:
- Richard Stuart Gilbert, “Classics Lite: On Teaching the Shorter, Magazine Versions of James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son” and Jonathan Lethem’s “The Beards”
- Sonya Huber, “James Baldwin: Nonfiction of a Native Son”
- Lawrence Evan Dotson, “Persona in Progression: A Look at Creative Nonfiction Literature in Civil Rights and Rap”
- Stephanie Guedet, “Feeling Human Again: Toward a Pedagogy of Radical Empathy”
- Dawn Duncan & Micaela Gerhardt, “The Power of Words to Build Bridges of Empathy”
If you have other classroom resources that you wish to share, I’ll add them to this post as I receive them. Many thanks!