Suggestions for Discussing the News from Ferguson

In this brief activity, students share their thoughts and feelings about the grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. 

Your students may find it helpful to share their thoughts and feelings about the news from Ferguson, Missouri.  This kind of sharing is often a useful way to begin a deeper exploration of difficult or controversial issues. Please see these guidelines for teaching about controversial issues

Begin by asking students what news they have heard about the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri. Elicit that on November 24, we learned that a grand jury has decided not indict the white police officer who shot and killed unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson in August. The grand jury’s decision touched off protests in Ferguson and in cities around the country.  Events in Ferguson have raised many issues for people nationwide, including the composition of the police force in Ferguson and elsewhere; racial profiling and other police behaviors and policies; stereotyping of young men of color; the fairness of the justice system, and racial inequality in general.

Ask students to put their chairs in a circle. Give each person three to five minutes to say whatever is on their minds about the grand jury decision.  They are free to pass. When one person is speaking, the others in the group pay good attention but don't comment. Tell students that what people say in the circle should be kept confidential.

In a second go-round, you might ask students to share one thing they wish would happen related to the Ferguson case. The circle is over after every person has had a chance to speak.

For more extensive exploration and discussion, see our earlier lessons related to Ferguson:

What Happened in Ferguson and Why

Challenging Stereotypes: Michael Brown and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown

What is Justice? What is Peace?