Reflecting on the Words of Jacob Blake's Family

This activity invites students to hear the words of Jacob Blake’s mother and sister, and to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings about the police shooting in Kenosha Wisconsin, and its impact.

To the Teacher

The police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin – and the subsequent protests and violence – may be on your students’ minds. This activity invites students to hear the words of Jacob Blake’s mother and sister, and to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings.

Before you begin, it may be helpful to read these guidelines on Teaching about Controversial or Difficult Issues.




Start by checking in with your students or having them check in with each other in a pair share or triad.

Review the class’s community guidelines.

Tell students that today we’re going to reflect on how the family of Jacob Blake responded after he was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 23, 2020.

You may want to share with students that the shooting of Jacob Blake touched off protests in Kenosha and around the country. In Kenosha, two days after Blake was shot, two Black Lives Matter protesters, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, were shot and killed, and a third was injured. Authorities have charged Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, with the shootings. He was one of a group of civilians who had come to the protest carrying military-style rifles, in support of the police.

Today, our focus will be on hearing how members of Jacob Blake’s family responded to his shooting, and on sharing our own responses.



Shooting of Jacob Blake

Share with students that:

  • On August 23, 2020, Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
  • Blake was shot as he opened the door of his car. Three of his children, ages 3, 5, and 8, were watching from inside the car.
  • The shooting paralyzed Blake from the waist down and caused other serious injuries.
  • In response, people filled the streets of downtown Kenosha to protest the shooting and police violence against Black men and women. As the protests continued into the night, some in the crowd broke storefront windows and set fires, while police shot rubber bullets and sprayed teargas.

After the shooting, Jacob Blake’s mother, father, and sisters spoke to the media about what had happened.



Statement by Julia Jackson

Play for students this statement by Jacob Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson.

Alternatively, invite a student to read Julia Jackson’s words out loud:

My son has been fighting for his life, and we really just need prayers. 

As I was riding through here, thorough the city, I noticed a lot of damage. It doesn't reflect my son or my family.

If Jacob knew what was going on as far as that goes — the violence and the destruction — he would be very unpleased. So I'm really asking and encouraging everyone in Wisconsin and abroad to take a moment and examine your hearts. Citizens, police officers, firemen, clergy, politicians: Do Jacob justice on this level and examine your hearts. 

We need healing. As I pray for my son's healing — physically, emotionally, and spiritually — I also have been praying even before this for the healing of our country. God has placed each and every one of us in this country because he wanted us to be here. Clearly you can see by now that I have beautiful brown skin. But take a look at your hand. Whatever shade it is, it is beautiful as well. How dare we hate what we are. We are humans. God did not make one type of tree or flower or fish or horse or grass or rock. How dare you ask Him to make one type of human that looks just like you?

I'm not talking to just Caucasian people. I am talking to everyone: white, Black, Japanese, Chinese, red, brown. No one is superior to the other. The only supreme being is God himself.

Please, let's begin to pray for healing for our nation. We are the United States. Have we been united? Do you understand what's going to happen when we fall? Because a house that is against itself cannot stand.

To all of the police officers: I'm praying for you and your families. To all of the citizens, my black and brown sisters and brothers: I'm praying for you. I believe that you are intelligent beings just like the rest of us. Everybody: Let's use our hearts, our love, and our intelligence to work together, to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other. America is great when we behave greatly. 

Invite each student to share their thoughts on some or all of the questions below.  

  • What are your thoughts and feelings about what Julia Jackson said?
  • How do you think she is feeling? Explain.
  • What does she call on people to do? 
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about that?

Statement by Letetra Widman

Jacob Blake’s sister, Letetra Widman, also spoke. Play her statement for students:

Alternatively, invite a student to read the following quote from Letetra Widman out loud:

I am my brother's keeper, and when you say the name Jacob Blake, make sure you say father, make sure you say cousin, make sure you say son, make sure you say uncle. But most importantly, make sure you say human. 

Human life. Let it marinate in your mouth, in your minds. A human life. Just like every single one of y'all. ... We're human. And his life matters.

So many people have reached out to me to telling me they're sorry that this happened to my family. Well don't be sorry, because this has been happening to my family for a long time. Longer than I can account for. It happened to Emmett Till. Emmett Till is my family. Philando. Mike Brown. Sandra.

This has been happening to my family. And I have shed tears for every single one of these people that it's happened to. This is nothing new. I'm not sad. I'm not sorry. I'm angry. And I'm tired. I haven't cried one time. I stopped crying years ago. I am numb. I have been watching police murder people that look like me for years.

I'm also a Black history minor. So not only have I been watching it in the 30 years that I've been on this planet, but I've been watching it for years before we were even alive. I'm not sad. I don't want your pity. I want change.

Invite each student to share their thoughts on some or all of the questions below.  

  • What are your thoughts and feelings about what Letreta Widman said?
  • How does she say she is feeling?  Why?
  • Who does she consider her family?  What other “family member” names does she mention?
  • What do you think she means when she says that she wants change?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about that?


Note: Jacob Blake’s father and other family members also spoke at the “Commitment March” in Washington, DC on August 28, 2020. Watch their comments here.



Invite students to share their response to the following:

  • What is a message you would send to the family and friends of Jacob Blake?