Option #1: Paraphrasing Activity – “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

For this assignment, you will use Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to help you practice the important rhetorical skill of paraphrasing.

Be sure to address the following:

  • State the purpose of the essay. Be sure to paraphrase the speech throughout your analysis.
  • Describe one strategy for development of the speech. This should be one that you identify with or think is effective. Base your description on Chapter 22 of Engaging Questions and the Connect activities you participated in.
  • Remember that your paraphrase should end up being about the same number of words as the original material that you cite. Please note that you are not paraphrasing the entire document but more like a sentence or two. This is similar to what you might do with a quote, but with your own words. A paraphrase is not the same as a summary.
  • Explain why you think the strategy is effectively used in the speech.
  • Incorporate at least one quote from the speech and properly cite the quote on the References page.
  • Explain how you plan to use the development strategy in your Portfolio Project.


  • Your written paper should be 2-3 pages in length not counting the title and reference pages, which you must include.
  • You must accurately insert a quote in your analysis to provide in-text evidence from the letter, and you must comment on the quote to demonstrate you are thinking in a critical manner.
  • Your paper must be formatted according to the


Use the following thesis and level I headings for your week 4 CT assignment.

Thesis: In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King effectively used the rhetorical strategy of __________________ to achieve his purpose of________________________, a model that can be applied to the upcoming portfolio project.

Level I Headings:

Rhetorical Strategy

[Choose one rhetorical strategy from ch. 22 of Engaging Questions, and give a few examples of

where King used the strategy in his essay. Cite the examples parenthetically, giving page numbers.]

King’s Purpose

[Explain your notion of King’s purpose in writing the letter and show how your chosen rhetorical strategy helped him achieve that purpose.]

Application to the Portfolio

[Explain how you will apply the same strategy in your portfolio project.]


Be sure to carefully read the Week 4 CT Guidelines posted under Materials for additional instructions.