Students should participate in a close read of Joachim Prinz’s speech.  You may have them read the speech to themselves.  As they read to themselves you may ask them to read with a pencil, circling unfamiliar words, underlining meaningful phrases, and writing questions in the borders of the page.  After students have spent time with the piece allow one or several students to read it aloud.

After the piece has been read several times, begin the seminar using, but not limiting your discussion to the text-based questions below.

  • Define solidarity as it is used in the text.
  • Using the text, define the word neighbor in a global context.
  • What is a “mockery”?  How is the America idea a mockery? How do inequity and injustice make a mockery of the American idea?
  • When do you think this speech was made?  What in the speech brings you to this conclusion?
  • Tell me about the person who made this speech.  Point to words, statements, etc that give you this impression.
  • According to the speech, what is the great American idea?
  • What does the speaker believe are the aspirations of America?
  • According to the speech, how can silence be a more terrible problem than bigotry and hatred?
  • Why does the speaker empathize with the plight of African Americans?
  • In what ways does the speaker point to the parallels of the histories of Jews and African Americans?
  • What problem does Prinz introduce in his speech?  How does he elaborate on this problem and elicit emotions from his audience?
  • Using the speech, create an identity chart for Joachim Prinz.  (Identity charts are a graphic tool that helps students consider the many factors that shape who we are as individuals and as communities. They can be used to deepen students’ understanding of themselves, groups, nations and historical and literary figures. Sharing their own Identity charts with peers can help students build relationships and breakdown stereotypes. In this way, identity charts can be utilized as an effective classroom community-building tool.
  • Use a portion of King’s “I have a Dream Speech” and/or Obama’s speech for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington to expand the close read activity.  Add text-based questions that result in the students comparing and contrasting the speeches, the viewpoints, as well as the men.
  • Create identity charts for Obama and King to compare with Prinz.
  • Create an identity chart for a spectator at the King and Prinz speech.  Then create an identity chart for a spectator at the Obama speech.  Compare the two.  Be certain to include information about what devices each might have had to record the speech, what celebrities each spectator may have been excited to see at the speech, organizations in which the spectator may have belonged, etc.
  • Provide students with a writing prompt that compels the use of evidence from the text.  Examples include:
  • Often times a speech is given to “ready” the listener for another speech that serves as the complement, the one that goes deeper and provides more information.  Which of these speeches “readies” the listener for the speech that serves as the complement?  Provide evidence showing how one speech deepens the understanding of the other.
  • After reading Prinz’s and King’s speeches, compare the underlying suffering these men have endured and the goals each have set for his own life.
  • Using evidence from Prinz’s speech and that of Barack Obama, write an essay discussing the progress of the great American idea.
  • Divide the class in half.  Have half of the students write a newspaper article chronicling the Prinz speech and the other have reporting on Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech.  Compare the information in the articles.
  • Have students write a letter home after they have witnessed the Prinz and King speech.  Describe the experience of the march and how the speeches moved them to action.
  • Students can perform shadow readings using Prinz’s and Obama’s speeches.  This shadow reading can be developed to show progress or the lack of progress toward the goals of 1963.  A shadow reading allows students to use multiple documents to show commonalities or differences.  It is done by having two students position themselves in a way that each one seems to be reciting alone, but they are in fact responding to one another.  Student #1 will read a passage while student #2 remains quiet.  Student #2 will then read a passage as a response.  Two views can be shown for the same “question” in one setting.  It can be quite dramatic when properly staged.