• Listening and Writing Exercise: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    In the U.S. today we are celebrating one of the greatest American citizens of all time, the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In celebration and remembrance of this great man we have a listening exercise based on an interview he gave.

    This interview highlights what an amazing and intelligent individual he was. Dr. King continues to be a hero in the U.S. Not only does he hold an important place in American history, but he is also an example of the best of what Americans can accomplish.

    Watch the interview with Dr. King below, then try to answer the questions. 

    Answer the questions in comments below, and we’ll respond.

    1. Where is Dr. King located and where is the panel located?
    2. What was the purpose of the March? What happened that was tragic?
    3. What did Governor LeRoy Collins hope for after the demonstrations?
    4. How long will the demonstrations continue?
    5. Dr. King thinks there are a lot of good white people in Alabama. T/F
    6. What is the most essential thing for King to end the demonstrations?
    7. What is the 3rd problem that Dr. King wants to address?
    8. The questions from the panel reflect their personal views. T/F
    9. Was the marching demonstration illegal?
    10. What two types of laws does Dr. King observe?

    King’s Letter From The Birmingham Jail is one of the best examples of essay writing in English. We’ve created an exercise using the text below. In the first part, choose the word that best completes the sentence. In the second, choose the correct definition of the words in purple. Finally, answer the three questions at the end.

    My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
    While _________ (a. visiting, b. staying,  c. confined) here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of ________ (a. genuine, b. mostly, c. some)  good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

    I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization ________(a. controlling, b. protesting, c.operating) in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our _________(a. enemies, b. affiliates, c. friends). Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we ________ (a. lived up, b. lived in, c. lived for) to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

    But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

    Home Towns  – a. Place where you were born and raised. b. Where your parents live. c. Town your ancestors are from.

    Compelled – a. Someone asks you to do something. b. A sense of duty. c. To be forced to do something.

    Aid a. Justice. B. Compliance. c. Help.

    Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

    1. Dr. King feels that they should wait for justice patiently to come to all states and countries. (T/F)

    You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

    1. What reasons does Dr. King give for the demonstration?

    In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

    1. Is Birmingham during Dr. Kings time a peaceful city?

    You can read the full letter here.

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