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Document Analysis

After the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the African-American civil rights movement accelerated. For this assignment, you'll write an analysis of one of the most important statements from that movement: Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." This folder contains the material you'll need to write that analysis, including the "Letter," other documents from the time, and the grading criteria.

In preparing to write, you should read Davidson, pp. 611-620, for background, which you should include in your paper. You should then read the 1963 inaugural address given by George C. Wallace when he became governor of Alabama. Wallace was governor at the time King was imprisoned and was a fierce opponent of integration. This is the speech in which Wallace said, "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." (The version you will read is based on Wallace's reading copy and has dots to indicate pauses.) You may also watch the speech in Youtube. In addition, read the speech of Malcolm X, who also opposed King's philosophy, rejecting nonviolence and urging a separate black nation. As you read these documents, note the important points in each of them; you'll need this material for writing the section of your analysis in which you provide context for King's letter by describing what others were saying at the time. Finally, read King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and write your analysis, using the criteria as a guide.

In organizing your essay, you should begin with an introduction at least a paragraph in length, which should contain a thesis statement. You should then devote at least one paragraph to each of the document analysis criteria in numbers 4 through 9. Finally, you should write a conclusion, which should likewise be about a paragraph long.

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