Welcome to Discussion 3Evaluating approaches to civil rights struggles!



For this discussion forum post, please consider whose approach to Civil Rights you think made more sense: Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X? Be sure to distinguish their two philosophies and then clearly state which of these leaders you think was (more) right. Be specific and talk about how they make their arguments in their speeches or letters, focusing on the words they use. (Remember to refer to these historical figures and writers by their full or their last namesnot just their first names.)


  1. Begin your 500-word response to the prompt above with an introductory paragraph in which you state the specific argument you will make, e.g., “The approach taken by Martin Luther King, Jr./Malcolm X was better because…” Then robustly support that point in a series of body paragraphs.
  2. Start the body with the historical context first (what was going on at the time). Do not discuss King or Malcolm X in this paragraph or two. Be sure to cite your sources for the historical context.
  3. Then discuss each leader’s response. Quote and analyze the actual words from “Message to the Grassroots,” “The Ballot or the Bullet,” and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to support each point you make about their philosophies or beliefs or strategies. Remember to use the quote sandwich.
  4. Then explain why you think one is right, supporting the point you made in the intro. 


Make sure you quote and cite the texts posted in this module of the course site. Then make sure you analyze the language you quote to explain why it means what you say it does. Show how the words work to create meaning. Provide citations for all historical info. 


End your response with a short conclusion in which you state why this matters today.



Do your best to write in the active voice (see active vs. passive voice handout in the Writing Tools module). Once you’re satisfied that you have said what you wanted to, go back through and proofread for any spelling or capitalization errorsthese types of errors are distracting to your readers and a quick read-through will often catch them. Now see if there are any missteps around grammar that you can catch. Are there errors you make frequently? Start a personal editing checklist and put these errors on it.



Please submit your initial post by 11:55 pm on Saturday, January 29.

Remember: do not under any circumstances consult, let alone copy and paste from, information or analyses not found in the materials on this course site. Do not go outside the coursenot to get ideas or information and not to borrow languageor you will earn a zero on the assignment. Please meet with me if you have any questions about this.


That necessarily means you will not be referring to biographical information about Martin Luther King, Jr. or el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (aka Malcolm X), since that information does not exist on this course site.



Here is the grading breakdown for this discussion post:

Your initial Post should have:

  1. Short intro paragraph with your clearly-stated position that notes the ideology the speeches challenge (10 points)
  2. Multiple paragraphs that justify your position (20 points)
  3. Short quotes (no more than 2 lines of a source at a time) from the speeches/letter and analysis of the language in those quotes. You should also cite at least one or two of the readings/videos that address the historical background. (30 points)
  4. Conclusion that explains why your position matters today (10 points)
  5. At least 500 words (or else you may lose up to 20 points).
  6. Also, practice writing in the active voice. (I will expect you to be able to explain why you preferred the passive route if you take it.)

    This is the last pass/fail discussion forum post. As long you meet all the basic requirements above, you will receive full credit. However, I will be suggesting ways to develop your thinking and expression and I’ll expect you to begin to incorporate my comments and points from previous discussion forums. Beginning with the next discussion, I will grade you on the quality of your argument and writing in addition to whether you meet the minimum standards for the discussion post.