In March 1968, only a few months before his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a speech to the SCLC entitled "A New Sense of Direction." In the selected excerpt, King poses and responds to two questions regarding the 1967 race riots in Northern cities: "First, is the guilt for riots exclusively that of Negroes? And [second] are they a natural development to a new stage of struggle?"
This text can be used for class discussion or as a starting point for a research paper, debate or Socratic Seminar. Students can also rank King's reasoning as to what contributing factors they believe most and least led to the riots and include accompanying explanations. Another assignment could be for students to write an argumentative essay as to whether or not they agree with King's logic.