Selma by Ava DuVernay and Why We Can’t Wait by MLK: Practice with Analysis

Selma by Ava DuVernay and Why We Can’t Wait by MLK: Practice with Analysis
Selma by Ava DuVernay and Why We Can’t Wait by MLK: Practice with Analysis
Selma by Ava DuVernay and Why We Can’t Wait by MLK: Practice with Analysis
Selma by Ava DuVernay and Why We Can’t Wait by MLK: Practice with Analysis
Selma by Ava DuVernay and Why We Can’t Wait by MLK: Practice with Analysis
Selma by Ava DuVernay and Why We Can’t Wait by MLK: Practice with Analysis
Selma by Ava DuVernay and Why We Can’t Wait by MLK: Practice with Analysis
Selma by Ava DuVernay and Why We Can’t Wait by MLK: Practice with Analysis
Grade Levels
Common Core Standards
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Students learn about Martin Luther King and Ana DuVernay, who directed the film, Selma.

Students will read, listen to and view supporting clips while learning the necessary elements to analyze the text and film. Students will show mastery of the standards at the end of the lesson through a SOAPSTONE Analysis, a Socratic Seminar, short paragraph responses and a written timed essay scored on an AP style rubric.

The TED TALK “Allegories on race and racism,” by Camara Jones is used in this resource. Links to different NPR, New York Times articles and videos showing the themes of from Martin Luther King’s philosophy and the film, “Selma.” There is a short paragraph writing opportunity writing an appraisal of Ana DuVernay’s portrayal of Martin Luther King. Students will listen to an NPR Fresh Air interview with Ana DuVernay, and on charts provided in the appendix, they will complete the evaluation of ethos, logos, and pathos. There is a lesson on the rhetorical situation in an essay on Selma by Gay Talese. Finally, there is a link to study President Barack Obama’s speech at the 50th anniversary of the March on Selma. The students will complete a PAPA Square for Rhetorical Analysis for Obama’s Selma speech.

The entire lessons act as an explication and a building of context for the rhetorical analysis found on the 1989 AP English language prompt on Martin Luther King’s Why We Can’t Wait. There is a link to the prompt, passage, rubric and three student sample essays,

These lessons fit any Honors Literature class, Pre-AP, American Literature, AP English Language or Literature class to prepare students for AP English Language exams, Common Core extended response assessments, American Literature Course exams, the SAT and ACT essay and critical thinking activities.


There are sources for teaching the Socratic Seminar, as the lessons act as support for the argument. The packet includes complete lessons, Common Core standards, essential and key questions.



Total Pages
26 pages
Answer Key
Rubric only
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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