Crito and “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

Class Exercises “Crito” and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” In small groups of three to four, work together to get a better understanding of Plato’s “Crito” and Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail-
Each group should assign the following roles to its members: Leader Speaker Recorder
Overview Background on Crito: Socrates has been in jail for about a month. awaiting execution. When his death is immanent (1-2 days away), Crito comes to persuade him to escape (this is possible–Crito and his friends have the money and connections, and even a place for Socrates to go). Background on “Letter…”: Martin Luther King was arrested in Birmingham for disobeying a blanket injunction against any -parading. demonstrating. boycotting, trespassing. and picketing.” He wrote the letter in response to “A Call for Unity”–made by eight white clergymen (including clergy from various Christian den ominations and one Jewish Rabbi)–which opposed King’s form of nonviolent resistance (calling instead for things to be hashed out in the courts. regardless of the time that this would take).

  1. Socrates says that escaping would harm people. Who will it harm? Why? Do you think this is true? 3. In his letter. Martin Luther King claims that there is a difference between just and unjust laws. What is this difference? Do you agree with him? 3. Why does King think that one only has to obey the just laws? Do you agree? What do you think Socrates would say. given that he says that breaking the laws would destroy the city? 4. Besides harming people. Socrates is committed to sticking to his agreements–to not breaking promises. But, he only thinks he needs to keep just agreements. What does he mean by this? What is the difference between a just and an unjust agreement? What might an example of each be? Why don’t you have to keep unjust agreements. according to Socrates? Do you agree? How does this connect to King’s arguments for breaking unjust laws? S. Who does Socrates have an agreement with? If Socrates escaped prison, what agreement would he be breaking? 6. Could someone argue that King and the Black Americans he represents have made a similar just agreement with the US? 7. In the end. Socrates accepts his sentence and docs not escape prison because he thinks it’s the right thing to do. Do you think Socrates does the right thing? 8. Do you think that King is justified in supporting non-violent actions? Or should he do what the clergymen suggest. and wait for these issues to be settled in court? What do you think Socrates would say? Do you agree?

Sample Solution