Will We Learn from Trayvon Martin’s Death?


Editor's Note: Please note that events may have changed since this story was written.

The empty space left by the death of a young person seems somehow larger—perhaps because we sense not only the absence of who he was, but also of who he could have become. This emptiness can engulf an entire community, even a nation, when the death is unjust.

On Feb. 26, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American high school student, was fatally shot on his way home from the convenience store. He carried a package of Skittles and an iced tea. He had no weapons. His killer, George Zimmerman (a neighborhood watch member more than 100 pounds heavier than Trayvon and armed with a semi-automatic pistol) still has not been arrested because he claims he shot Trayvon in self-defense.

Evidence of misconduct has clouded the case: an officer told a witness her story was incorrect. Police did not test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol when they arrived on the scene. Tapes of a 911 operator telling Zimmerman not to pursue Trayvon were withheld from the public.

We must ask ourselves—Why would police take the word of a man holding a pistol over the body of a boy? Why would a witness’ story be changed? Why is 13-year-old Austin, an African-American neighbor, afraid he will be stereotyped by neighborhood watch members and police just as Martin was?

Some of these questions will be answered by investigators. Other questions—the deeper, more disturbing ones that ask about equality and intolerance—must be answered within our classrooms and our courtrooms. These dark questions have grown from our living rooms and our televisions. Their very existence attests that we, as a nation, are failing our Trayvon Martins.

A recent study by the Office for Civil Rights shows that the percentage of young black men suspended from school (as Martin was) is far greater than that of their peers. Another study, by The Sentencing Project, examines vastly disproportionate rates of incarceration for African-American men. We should be asking ourselves why these disparities exist.

Trayvon Martin was not a victim of Zimmerman alone. He was a victim of the lopsided school system that suspended him. He was a victim of a police force that assumes first that young black men are guilty. He was a victim of legislation, like Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, that gives citizens the unfettered right to kill if they feel threatened in any way.

Tomorrow, look around your classroom. Do you have any Trayvon Martins? As an educator, you have the power to stave off the emptiness of Trayvon’s death. Talk to your students about racism. Question legislation that endorses vigilantism. Speak up against police inaction. Champion your students’ rights.

Nothing will fully fill the void Zimmerman created in the lives of Trayvon’s family, friends and teachers. But Trayvon’s empty desk can become a symbol of awareness and change—a sign to our society that the current state of affairs is not acceptable.  

Pettway is associate editor for Teaching Tolerance.


Isn't there a more updated

Submitted by Libtard on 31 March 2012 - 4:09pm.

Isn't there a more updated picture of Mr. Martin....the one posted looks like one from when he was in 3rd grade.

Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty"

What about the fact that close to 90% of African American murders are committed by other African Americans? Where is the outrage? Where is the life lesson in that statistic? Stop politicizing this tragedy.


Submitted by Kate Livingston on 4 May 2012 - 2:46pm.


To me, any young man who dies

Submitted by Donald G VonBuskirk Jr on 30 March 2012 - 10:29am.

To me, any young man who dies violently is a tragic loss. This young man is no different. If indeed the facts of this story prove the other young man was acting in self-defense, that is that. If the other young man who shot him was at fault, he should pay. I am having a hard time understanding why so many people are so intolerant of the system of justice in America that they demand a judicial response without all or even any facts. Too many facts about both men are coming out that shows Mr. Trayvon Martin in other than just an innocent participant in this incident. Until all facts are out, I remain very tolerant of our judicial systems process. After the facts are out it will not be a matter of tolerance but justice administered. I am however, very intolerant of political and public figures who use their power or prominence to push their bias agendas down the racial and religious thoughts of Americans. So, far I have not heard too much to tell me this is a case of racial injustice except for what is being said through the mouths of the prominent bias. The Bible and our country's Constitution tell me that we all have a right and privilege of due process. They do not tell me of warped bias running and trampling over justice for the sake of promoting injustice. I am about as tolerant as you can get toward all the many people of this wonderful country. I am also about as intolerant as you can get toward those who blatantly disregard the laws, freedom, and liberties I have as a citizen of the United States of America. Tolerant? Yes! Intolerant? Yes! So was Jesus Christ.

Give me a major break. This

Submitted by talibav on 30 March 2012 - 1:20pm.

Give me a major break. This was not any man; this was a 17 y/o teenager against a 28 y/o man who accosted him in the dark (but I know it makes it easier to be have your opinion if you lie and say it was just two men). Trayvon very likely perceived him as a threat; if not a predator or some kind of lunatic. If someone appraoches me like that in the dark I would fight for my life as well. Unfortunately because he was NOT a thug, or doing anything wrong walking back home; he didn't have a gun on him to match the coward who thought he had the "priviledge" to confront any young black male whenever he wished. The only problem was when Trayvon stood HIS ground, this person used his gun. Many minorities are "so intolerant of the system of justice in America" because they have learned to be! Surely you jest to think this system is always fair to minorities or the poor. Or maybe you are just sleep walking.

As for your intolerance of "those who use their power or prominence to push their bias agendas down the racial and religious thoughts of Americans", have you forgotten-they are Americans too! Born right here in this country and they have a right to protest injustice. You would have had the same INTOLERANCE of Martin Luther King; because that's exactly what he did and who he stood for. Now folks' true colors are coming out. I'm always amazed by the Pharisees and hypocrites that come out of the woodwork talking about Jesus Christ, the Bible, and the Constitution when people protest. That's who I'm intolerant of; they will say they admire Martin Luther King, but that's only after the fact, many would actually have been those people in the crowd opposite MLK when he was alive: spitting on him and saying this kind of stuff: "I am also about as intolerant as you can get toward those who blatantly disregard the laws, freedom, and liberties I have as a citizen of the United States of America." Because remember: it was the LAW in some states to have to ride in the back of the bus, drink at colored fountains; and be unable to vote!" I was a child then and only visited Birmingham occasionally, but I remember the faces and intolerance of those people who hated people like him, and my relatives who joined him, as they broke those unjust despicable laws! So I am just as intolerant about certain things as you are; and definitiely do not believe you are more like Jesus Christ!

Before the end of the school

Submitted by Sharon L. on 30 March 2012 - 5:04am.

Before the end of the school day yesterday, I told my 6th grade son that we would be going to a rally for Trayvon Martin at a nearby park after school. Apparently my son mentioned it to his teacher.He told me that his teacher (my colleague; I teach at the same school) told him that there would probably be fights breaking out at the event. (My son, by the way, is the only African American male in his class for gifted children. The lack of representation of black children in programs for the gifted is a whole other issue....) My 7th grade nephew (also African American)walks about a mile each day from his school to my school when he gets out. Last week he told me that a woman locked her car door as he walked by on his way to my school. He didn't understand why she felt the need to do so. I, though, knew that "it" was happening. At the age of 12, my nephew was now being perceived as a potential threat to society. He, too, though, was afraid to go to the rally. Why? Because a (white) teacher perpetuated the racially-misguided (a polite way of saying "racist") fear that if a group of people of color congregate in large numbers, than there is sure to be a riot or fights breaking out in due time. I had to remind my boys that if Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King--and all the people before and after them of all shades of color--hadn't stood up for justice, our nation would be further behind than we already are. Similarly, I reminded them that women had to stand up and fight for equal rights and justice, too. All of these people had doubts and fears. However, as it is written on the concentration camp memorial wall at Dachau, if I don't stand up and speak, who will be left to stand up for me? We must tear down the walls of fear of those who look different from ourselves, break down the stereotypes, and stand up together for justice and equality for all. We can't wait for someone else to do it either. We have to do it ourselves, and we must teach and empower our children to do the same. By the way, the rally was peaceful and inspiring, and my children (including another classmate of my son who accompanied us--after first receiving parental permission) were very glad that we attended. Sometimes fears can be overcome, simply by exposing one to that which s/he fears....

I'm having a hard time NOT

Submitted by talibav on 28 March 2012 - 1:43pm.

I'm having a hard time NOT seeing race as at least part of the reason for this teen's killing. This is NOT a color-blind world though many people would like to be in denial and say it is. The police held this boy's body for 3 days without contacting parents (he had a cell phone on him); they let the killer go without drug testing (though the corpse was tested); WITH his gun; and he has not been arrested to this day. The 911 call WAS held from the parents until they sued to obtain it: On the 911 call we hear this young man called "probably on drugs"; "these a__holes always get away"; suspiciously up to something; and F___g goon or coon (take your pick, neither is a neutral term of endearment). There is every reason to think race played some part in this man's biases. It doesn't matter if he's a white Hispanic or how many Black children he mentored. He can still stereotype someone and he obviously did, then killed them. He brought a gun, as many cowards do; to make them feel more powerful. If you accost someone; they fight back and you lose the fight; then you use a gun and they only have skittles... I think you're a coward, and possibly a murderer.

I do not think that most

Submitted by AJ on 28 March 2012 - 11:45am.

I do not think that most people in the world understands the way African Americans are still being treated today. There is still racism and unfairness. I have two adult sons and I recall one day when my son said to me during a conversation, "Mom, you just don't know." I asked that he explain and he told me some of the things that he was challenged with in school. No, my sons were not students with behavioral issues. Of course, as a parent, one would believe that educators and individuals in certain positions would have the best interest of those being served. Later, as I have been a part of the education system and worked previously in a high school, I was disappointed with the way our youth are treated, especially black students. I can truly admit, that my son's words resonate because of what I have experienced as an adult working in the educational system. Parents beware, get involved and more than anything communicate.

i am a student and i

Submitted by z.g on 28 March 2012 - 1:41pm.

i am a student and i understand fully what your son is going through. i face these challenges everyday.

Time will tell how this all

Submitted by Gary Ingle on 28 March 2012 - 11:08am.

Time will tell how this all plays out. Sometimes we are all to quick to judge. Today I would say we all hurting Boys , girls and all others of society when we jump because of the color. I believe it is time to remember Martin Luther Kings message. We cannot hate each other. It is sad to say that schools fail all our children today when they are poorly funded and the teachers way to overworked. It is time for all of us to stand up and say we all are human with no one having the right to to look down on anyone because they are different. All involved should be just as fast to jump up with concern no matter if the person is White, Black, Hispanic or any other culture. Taking faith and disipline out of our laws and schools have changed the way our children view life today. I again ask all of us to stop the color talk and address that all of us are important with equal rights. Lets ALL step up for others of all races when a we see an injustice. This hate must stop. Thanks for letting me and others have a voice.

Trayvon's death is beyond a

Submitted by Bobby on 28 March 2012 - 9:37am.

Trayvon's death is beyond a tragedy. But don't blame his death on his suspension. Blame it on a power tripping man who is sadly protected by a bad law. Is the stand your ground law anti-black. No! It's simply a bad law that was abused. Don't try to persuade me to think about this racially.

Tolerance would say that we

Submitted by Tracee on 28 March 2012 - 9:03am.

Tolerance would say that we need to look at the people and the situation without putting race into it automatically. I think it is a tragedy that the promise of this young man has ended too soon.
I am not quick to assume it was a racially motivated incident. I believe that Trayvon was frightened and that Mr. Zimmerman was frightened and they reacted poorly to each other and this is how it ended. It is the lesson we all try to teach our young children- use your words. What if they had spoken to each other? "Hey I haven't seen you around these parts are you new to the area?" and Trayvon would have said "Naw just walking through coming from the store - want a skittle?" This is tolerance.
I hate to hear people try to defame Trayvon- he's been suspended from school, but I also hate to see them defame Mr.Zimmerman also. I don't think he set out to kill a teenager that night.
I would not jump to the conclusion that just because Trayvon happened to be black that it was a racially motivated killing. I really think it may have been an instance where the gun law is the problem-- without the gun this would have been resolved differently. Unfortuntely the gun made Mr. Zimmerman more bold- he should have gone home and let the police do their job.

I think avoidance would say

Submitted by SJEducator on 28 March 2012 - 1:03pm.

I think avoidance would say that we shouldn't consider race as a factor, not tolerance. It's not being "put into" the situation, as you describe; it's there, and it's up to us to acknowledge and talk about patterns of violence and oppression and teach young people about it, as unfortunate a reality as it is.

In reply to Tracee "Tolerance

Submitted by leaning on 28 March 2012 - 9:41am.

In reply to Tracee "Tolerance would say that...", I agree that this situation is possibly ignorance and fear driven. I absolutely agree that Zimmerman was behaving boldly because of his gun and should have listened to the 911 dispatcher and NOT pursued Trayvon. Instead, he may have possibly chosen to play Marshall Matt Dillon and unfortunately became a deadly Barney Fife.I wonder how Zimmerman feels now? I guess we don't really know what was in the heart of either of the 2. We can hope that true justice will be served (whatever that may be) and lessons will be learned.

Sadly, as known so far,

Submitted by Laney on 28 March 2012 - 8:15am.

Sadly, as known so far, George Zimmerman's actions and the subsequent officials actions make this incident seem characteristic of a lynching. I am ashamed that this happened! I was listening to an elementary mujsic assembly where everyone was singing Woodie Guthrie's song, "This Land is my land, this land is your land" and I felt like crying and calling out Trayvon's name. I hope justice prevails.

We need to question why

Submitted by Susan Pierce on 27 March 2012 - 2:02pm.

We need to question why anyone would sanction a "wannabe' carrying a weapon. We also need to support anti-bias education in all law enforcement training programs. I don't mean just anti-profiling but in-depth understanding of each individual's personal, unrecognized biases.of course the training would not help neighborhood watch because they should not be playing cops in the first place. It might however address the errors that seem to crop up in this investigation by hopefully professionals law enforcement.

I've been reading the various

Submitted by Bill on 28 March 2012 - 7:26am.

I've been reading the various comments posted on this site and I'm not sure if all the information has been presented by the media. for another perspective: http://www.examiner.com/charleston-conservative-in-charleston-sc/zimmerman-was-on-the-ground-being-punched-when-he-shot-trayvon-martin

The reason why some folks carry weapons (not necessarily George Zimmerman) is for self defense. I'm not familiar with the neighborhood where the shooting took place but it seems, from what I read, that it was a high crime area. I think common sense dictates that you become aware of your surroundings.

The crime was a hate crime,

Submitted by BetsyP on 27 March 2012 - 9:18pm.

The crime was a hate crime, and the police handled this in a totally bigoted manner. And what about the death of Shaima Alwadi in San Diego, CA -- a Muslim mother of 5 who was beaten to death, probably targeted by her choice to wear a hijab (headcovering). Are people who "keep plain" going to be targeted because of the clothing they wear? Bring on the hoodies and the hijabs.

Every single person in North America came here as an immigrant. When are people going to wake up and realize that? On one side of my family, I had 8 ancestors on the Mayflower, and when they got here, THEY didn't speak the local language! (And they would not have survived if the existing residents hadn't helped them.) On the other side of my family, my great grandparents came through Ellis Island from Switzerland, and THEY didn't speak the local language either.

Where is tolerance in our society? Where is justice? Why are people being victims of violence because of their race, religion, gender or gender orientation, disability or the clothing they are or are not wearing? What's wrong with US? (pun intended)

Has Any One Seen

Submitted by Mark Carter on 27 March 2012 - 11:33am.

Has Any One Seen Justice-

Where is she?

If any time we need her, we need her Now!

Noticing often how Justice is rarely found
They say I got the right to remain silent
All other rights, they easily take back…

Senseless acts!

Trayvon was on his way home with a drink and a snack.

Where is Justice Oh! Where is she?

Sick mind of a man kills and still allowed to roam free
Sad but so true …this runs deep into our history
American History when black men and women were Strange Fruit on trees

Where is Justice? Oh! Where could she be!

Racism rears its ugly head at a Black youth…
With a drink, some skittles, wearing a hoodie
Damn! I just described me

Is my life in danger…and if so…why should that be?
The facts are …Justice ain’t around
And the law helps hide her from me
Her ass suppose to be blind… but she see who she want to see

This is a travesty!

Because of the color of my skin, style of my hair, clothes that I wear
What trickery makes you stop, look, and stare…

As if my very existence is your personal cross to bear

All the while I continue to look for Justice in the Land of the Brave
Home of the Free!
Hey if you see Justice….tell her…she needs to Find ME!

written by Mark W. Carter
dedicated to:the Martin Family

I hear your frustration - not

Submitted by Tracee on 28 March 2012 - 9:09am.

I hear your frustration - not knowing your age. I will encourage you to SUCCEED.
The best revenge is a life well lived. Do not succumb to others telling you that you are less based on the color of your skin or the place you live in. Make your school, your home and your community a refuge from hate.

Hi Mark, I trust you will

Submitted by Linda on 27 March 2012 - 8:04pm.

Hi Mark, I trust you will sent this piece to the Martin family, they will appreciate it.
I'd also like to share it, but will wait for your response.

Great job, I know it came

Submitted by BK Williams on 27 March 2012 - 7:17pm.

Great job, I know it came from your heart.

A beautiful, powerful

Submitted by Amy Mrozinski on 27 March 2012 - 4:13pm.

A beautiful, powerful response and homage, Mark. May I please share it?

The first thing we must NOT

Submitted by Pkceb on 27 March 2012 - 9:38am.

The first thing we must NOT do is rush to judgement. We are still in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty. I do not know all the facts of the case and am waiting to here them. What we don't need is leaders in education writing inflamatory pieces. Does disparity, in life, exist? Absolutely and we should be, as those molding young minds, the first line to say that that disparity should NOT exist and lift up our voices. But again, we do not know all the facts and quoting a study done on suspensions, again without knowing why Treyvon was suspended, does not teach anyone to dig for information and verifiable facts. It does teach that we need to write a slanted article exonerating Treyvon because he was a victim every step of the way and every action taken was beyond his control. It also teaches that the police are not arbitrators of justice, but only those of us with a dry erase board. We should stand for justice. We should instill it in our students. We should exemplify it in our classrooms. AND we should guide students to critical thinking and searching for ALL sides of a story. Knowledge, REAL knowledge is power and our students deserve nothing less.

Thank you for your voice of

Submitted by Kathy Gallivan on 28 March 2012 - 6:46am.

Thank you for your voice of reason.
This event was a terrible tragedy that is undeniable. A family has lost a loved one, which cannot be trivialized. We have only seen the biased, agenda driven Media's story. To make assumptions based on Media's slanted agenda which serves only one purpose, to sell news, is dangerous.
What screams for attention to me is the danger of vigilante justice. Why was a Neighborhood Watch member armed and ready to kill? From what we've been told there is no excuse for what Zimmerman did, it is heinous and deplorable. Just like any other mother, I want a child murderer to receive swift condemnation. What we must be careful of is using his same self-serving judgment to condemn him. We deserve that he be granted the same justice all U.S. citizens are guaranteed. That's the equality we fight for, right? We must look beyond our emotions to search for the truth.
The first time I saw this report on the news, it did include the 911 recording of the police telling this man not to pursue the person. Now the Media is trying to vilify the police with the lie that it was withheld.
Be very careful to not make final judgment based upon what the corrupt Media wants you to believe.

I agree that what "screams

Submitted by Joe on 29 March 2012 - 7:25am.

I agree that what "screams for attention to me is the danger of vigilante justice." Or in this case, just vigilantes. Why is an armed, "wann-be superhero" carrying a weapon? What also screams for attention to me is wondering how far we have come from Emmett Till (and if we have at all)?

The one thing I question in the article however, is the line: "He was a victim of the lopsided school system that suspended him." My critical/questioning side says, "Do we know that the school system was lopsided?" It might well have been. There is no denying that many schools and the justice system have their biases. I don't question that for a minute. I also know, however, that like some of my students, sometimes students get suspended for good reasons. It happens. At the same time, there is no cause and effect between getting suspended and getting shot for what would seem to be no good reason. What happened to this young man was inexcusable, but unlike the article, I want to be careful about blaming the school. It seem that the person to blame is still at large--and is likely to remain that way until Florida and states like it get their house in order and get rid of ridiculous, "Stand your ground laws."

Respectfully submitted.


I agree...we are jumping to

Submitted by Christine on 27 March 2012 - 3:33pm.

I agree...we are jumping to actions of retaliation when we don't know all the circumstances. We are becomming what we are accusing his assilant to be, a group that "fires off" their mouths before finding out what the situation really is.

Who are you referring to when

Submitted by Vanessa on 28 March 2012 - 7:29am.

Who are you referring to when you "we". I don't see any group jumping to actions of retaliation. I see groups asking for justice, looking for answers, seeking fairness. I can't blame Travyon's parents for speaking out. How many young black youth have been killed, assaulted, gone missing and no one takes notice. Now that there is a family who is speaking up for their son that's a problem. I hope that from now on every family that has in injustice done to a child will speak out and law enforcement will do their jobs unbiased.

It is true, one should never

Submitted by Wzrd1 on 27 March 2012 - 7:20pm.

It is true, one should never rush to judgement, however, the police contradicted witnesses. That is forbidden in police investigations!
The police violated a dozen policies in not drug and alcohol testing the shooter, it's only THE LAW.
Indeed, the investigation has been widely reported in all press outlets as horrifically flawed.
So, now we'll have to wait for the federal investigation to be completed, as the local police screwed up the investigation so badly that their investigation is useless.

What truly shocks me is the blame the victim action currently going on.
When I was in school, many decades ago, I was suspended a few times. If I were black, should I have been gunned down in the street when I was not committing any crime?
Honestly, the only lesson that community has given youngsters is this: If you're out alone and black, carry an illegal firearm, lest you be gunned down on the street and totally defenseless.

We must also NOT act as if

Submitted by talibav on 27 March 2012 - 12:22pm.

We must also NOT act as if this is "post racial" society and ignore the FACTs that Treyvon was armed with Skittles and an iced tea; and had not committed a crime when he was stereotyped by a biased eye, as one of them that "they always get away," and as suspicious while being Black. Thus, creating a dangerous incident that went somehow wrong and ended with the FACT that he is dead. Black young men need to know the truth of how they are (sometimes) viewed in this society. The truth may, sadly, take their innocence; but it also may save their lives. That is one side of the story no matter what else is found out.

I agree, We do need all the

Submitted by One Teacher on 27 March 2012 - 11:57am.

I agree, We do need all the facts before jumping to conclusions. The one thing that keeps gnawing at me though is this: Would an arrest have been made if the shooter were a young black man and the victim were an unarmed white man?

I have to agree with you.

Submitted by Malta Mom on 30 April 2012 - 6:53pm.

I have to agree with you. Being white I have been the recipient of reverse discriminatin in an predominately hispanic community. I think racism is everywhere but we need to continue educating our children about doing the right thing. Everyone is created equal and should be treated as such. It is hard to judge what went on without knowing all of the facts. It is unfortunate this young man had to lose his life, but I think society needs to take a step back and get the facts before jumping to conclusions.

Your point is well taken. We

Submitted by sharon badach on 27 March 2012 - 11:44am.

Your point is well taken. We must not rush to judgement. My observation has not been a blind one however. I have been following several stories including listening to the original 911 calls where the gunned man was told several times not to do anything.

Having taught about the

Submitted by Marc mostransky on 27 March 2012 - 8:29am.

Having taught about the tragedy of Emmit Till, this breaks my heart. It is far too easy in our society to have white males feel "threatened" by black males. There is a perverse history to this that clouds the facts. Numerous negative pictures will most likely be painted about Trayvon Martin, but the fact must remain that he was murdered. Teachers,educate your students. Fit such horrific events in with the Common Core Standards and remember the importance of civility and values.

Powerful message

Submitted by S. Sansbury on 21 March 2012 - 1:55pm.

Powerful message here...Travyon's death is indeed a sounding alarm that must be heeded--to prevent future tragedies and to permanently end the racism that incited his murder.

Thank you. I am a mother of

Submitted by Christine Sipes on 29 March 2012 - 10:10am.

Thank you. I am a mother of 2 black boys, grandmother of 2 black boys, married to a black man and an educator in a predominately white school district. My sons are doing well thanks to strong family support and blessings......my two grandsons are very young, and I will continue to worry, teach and pray. Black people in America are used to stories like this. That is not to say that it doesn't hurt each time it happens. Can you imagine a white teen being left as a Jon Doe in a morgue? One of the reasons I love my job is that in addition to being a postivie role model everyday, I get to connect with my "colored" students - boys and girls by telling them what was told me - "you have to be better" "you can do anything". Today I add "Obama is in the white house". This means that they can overcome just as he has, and continues to do. Yes this is an American tragedy, still good can come out of it. We hold up the parents in our hearts and prayers and do our little part where ever, and however we can.

This death should be known by

Submitted by GH on 28 March 2012 - 3:03pm.

This death should be known by everyone nationally as racism.
You should not be killed just by what color your skin is or if your hood is up.
Everyone should be viewed equally!

The Trayvon Martin case has

Submitted by Michelle Brymer on 21 March 2012 - 7:15pm.

The Trayvon Martin case has been the topic of discussion in my Humanities classes for the past several days. Fresh off a unit on the American Civil Rights Movement, my sophomores have been drawing parallels between the death of Emmett Till and the Martin case. Many students have been so moved by Trayvon's story that they have drafted letters to legislators and officials in Florida demanding justice for the Martins.

GREAT! connection. I just

Submitted by Kyesha Jennings on 23 March 2012 - 9:31pm.

GREAT! connection. I just asked myself how can I incorporate Trayvon's story into my composition classes. For my expository writing class I intend to have my student's compose a persuasive essay convincing the Florida police that they have made a mistake and/or convincing America that Zimmerman is not guilty of a crime. They will also have the opportunity to write a proposal.

For my argument based research class I intend on having students research Trayvon's story and compose a problem solution paper. I also intend on hosting a debate within both classroom settings.

I am working on the same

Submitted by Tamika S. on 27 March 2012 - 10:15am.

I am working on the same thing with my 6th grade students. We've been following the story very closely. It's great to hear other educators getting their students involved in this discussion. Have you thought about having your students wear hoodies one day in support of this story? I've been reading and hearing about other schools that have so I think I'm going to propose it to my admin.

Be careful proposing a hoodie

Submitted by Brooke on 27 March 2012 - 11:26am.

Be careful proposing a hoodie day. I'm a teacher at a charter school with a fairly strict dress code who did the same on behalf of my 8th grade class. The superintendent disagreed, and I'm currently at home on a 2 day suspension.

Make that fired. But good

Submitted by Brooke on 29 March 2012 - 9:06am.

Make that fired. But good for you all who are organizing successful hoodie days and making sure our kids are learning the real lessons that they need.

Brooke - My students are

Submitted by Lia on 13 April 2012 - 8:37am.

Brooke - My students are organizing a plan of action to help/show support/gain attention for an individual or group whose rights have been violated (ties in with our Civil Rights Unit). Obviously the Martin case was at the top of our list, but a few students have expressed interest in looking into your case. Let us know if there is anything specific we can do. Otherwise, we'll be brainstorming for the next couple of weeks! Be strong.

Brooke, if it is in fact the

Submitted by K on 2 April 2012 - 12:43pm.

Brooke, if it is in fact the case that you were fired, I encourage you to seek the advice of a lawyer.

Brooke, what I am reading is

Submitted by Boston on 29 March 2012 - 1:53pm.

Brooke, what I am reading is that you've been fired as a result of the 'hoodie day' that you supported in your classroom. Is this correct? If so, I am horrified and very sorry to hear about this.

Bravo for your sensitivity and responsiveness to your students during this time. I hope that you have some recourse against the ignorance displayed by the ed leadership in your community.

I am sorry this happen to

Submitted by bridges on 28 March 2012 - 12:19am.

I am sorry this happen to you, however I applaud you for your courage and for standing up for justice and Tayvon. You deserve the teacher of the year award. Shame on your superintendent!

we wil be doing that in my

Submitted by z.g on 28 March 2012 - 1:43pm.

we wil be doing that in my school no matter what the superintendant says... we will be standing up for our rights.


Submitted by Judy Harrison-Gordon on 27 March 2012 - 11:54pm.

SHAME..! SHAME..! SHAME...on your Superintendent..! Raising social consciousness is a HUGE part of a teacher's job. EXCELLENT teachers are constantly and consistently teaching students within a school setting to be tolerant toward each other, and to be socially aware and socially responsible citizens. EXCELLENT teachers constantly and consistently students' prior knowledge and current experiences to scaffold what they already know with what they must master to be well-balanced and mature scholars and individuals. Hoodie Marches or Hoodie Days are today's "sit-ins", "marches" or "boycotts", all of which were planned, supported and orchestrated by students of not-so long ago. Shame on a Superintendent who hides behind a "fairly strict dress code" to avoid the reality of Trayvon Martin's unjustified death, and who chooses instead to operate in denial of this momentous teachable moment to have a conversation about the racism that is very real in this Country. Just another reason why I AM NOT in favor of Charter schools which are in my opinion models for intolerance and segregation in and of themselves. I am sorry that you have been suspended for two days...your students have probably learned a lesson that was not worth teaching, and one that they will probably never forget.

I cannot believe this is 2012

Submitted by sharon badach on 27 March 2012 - 8:28am.

I cannot believe this is 2012 and this disgusting and sad display of neglectful injustice is still going on. It makes me think that we have not moved far at all from the Jim Crow days. America needs to wake up and see that a young boy had his life snatched from him because of someone else's sick unfounded racist suspicion and it is okay with some!! SO SAD!!!
Public School Life Skills Teacher