Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

A conversation about justice, extremism and activism

Course Details

  • Price: FREE
  • Start Date: On Demand
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Partner: Acumen’s Fellowship Program

What You’ll Learn:

  • Facilitate a conversation about issues of justice, activism, extremism, race using a text by Martin Luther King Jr. as a springboard
  • Explore your own relationship to activism and issues of social justice
  • Draw parallels between historical antecedents and current events


Issues of injustice persist in our world today and require urgent action. Yet conversations around race, activism, extremism and justice can be difficult to have. This course will equip you to lead a discussion on these important and challenging topics by using Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as a springboard.  The discussion guide provided in this course will help you explore MLK’s arguments, dissect his masterful use of rhetoric, and come to a better understanding of how to address issues of social injustice in the present time and in your own community.


Discussion-Based Course

Course Syllabus

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  • Downloadable version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter
  • Step-by-step facilitator’s guide and background materials that will equip you to host a small group of friends or colleagues for a discussion
Section 1: Individual Preparation
  • Reading: Welcome Message from Jacqueline Novogratz
  • Activity: Pre-Meeting Checklist
  • Reading: Context on Martin Luther King and this Letter
  • Reading: Letter from a Birmingham Jail
  • Activity: Reflection Questions
  • Activity: Introduce Yourself to the Course Community
Section 2: Team Meeting using Discussion Guide
  • Discussion: Welcome and Introductions
  • Discussion: Group Norms
  • Discussion: Step-by-Step Analysis of the Letter
  • Discussion: Wrap-Up
Section 3: Virtual Sharing with the Global Community
  • Activity: Reflection on Discussion
The course already started. Can I still enroll?
You can enroll up to 2 weeks after the start date of the course.
When will the next course be offered?
We offer our courses a few times a year. Sign up for our emails to be notified of the next time the course will be offered.
Do I get a certificate for this course?
You will earn a Statement of Accomplishment if you complete 5 of 6 assignments, including the final assignment, by the last day of the course.
How do teams work?
We recommend you find friends or colleagues for your team that you can meet with in person each week. Each team member should register for the course individually. You’ll then be able to form your team on the NovoEd platform once the course begins.
Do I have to complete the course with a team?
While we believe taking the course with a team will give you the best experience and chance of completing the course, it is possible to complete the course individually if you wish.
What should I expect from the assignments?
You will create a Life Map, develop your own personal story, integrate it into a larger presentation, and record your presentation for feedback from your classmates. You should allocate at least one hour a week to complete each assignment.

Supported By

This discussion guide has been drawn from the curriculum for Acumen’s Fellowship program.  This curriculum has been developed by Acumen’s Leadership team including Jacqueline Novogratz, Sasha Dichter and Bavidra Mohan who have years of experience hosting powerful conversations with emerging moral leaders from around the world.

What People Are Saying

"This course is perfect for people who believe in a social cause but are sometimes not confident enough to defend it in front of others. It equips you with life long lessons and a proven example from someone who went through all of this and changed the course of history."

Muhammad A, Chakwāl