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Resources for Teaching About Ferguson

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Many faculty members discuss current events in our classes in order to connect our curriculum to the “real world.” I teach US History, and connecting the past to the present is an essential skill for my students. As we begin the last week of the term, our students are likely thinking about the recent events in Ferguson, and trying to make sense of them. Here are a few resources to help us as teachers facilitate these conversations with our students and help them understand the social and historical context of Ferguson.


How to Teach Kids About What’s Happening in Ferguson

This article by Marcia Chatelain, Assistant Professor of History at Georgetown, discusses the motivation behind #FergusonSyllabus, and lists the resources that were collected from teachers around the country for lessons, books, songs, and assignments around Ferguson, civil rights, African American history, community organizing, and policing. In this article Chatelain recommends that instructors at the college level “focus on the structural problems Ferguson brings to the forefront.”


Do’s and Don’ts for Teaching About Ferguson

This post from The Root advises teachers not to ignore the issue, to give ourselves time to process before engaging students, to acknowledge the role that race and racism in this situation, and to ask students what they want to know and want to discuss.


On Ferguson, Missouri: History, Protest and “Respectability”

This post from Clarence Lang, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies at the University of Kansas, provides historical context for the events in Ferguson and the media narrative surrounding them.


Teaching About Ferguson

This post from the CUNY Graduate Center gives some discipline-specific ideas for discussing Ferguson.


Teaching For Change

This website includes ideas for lessons on police brutality, the history of racism, international human rights, and housing inequality, among others.

This is only small sample of resources available. There will be additional opportunities for faculty to discuss how to teach about Ferguson on each campus. Stay tuned for more information, and please contact me if you have any questions or are interested in additional resources.

Update: This Chronicle of Higher Education blog post A Year of Racial Tumult Brings Potent Lessons – and Risks – to the Classroom  discusses many teaching strategies that faculty have used over the past year to discuss Ferguson and related events.

About Heather Mayer

Part-Time History Instructor and Coordinator of the Rock Creek Teaching Learning Center. more »


There are 16 comment for this article. If you see something that doesn't belong, please click the x and report it.

x by Michael Trigoboff 3 years ago

Here are two resources that express a somewhat different point of view:

There Is Only One Real Way to Prevent Future Fergusons: End the War on Drugs

“Teaching” Ferguson

x by Damien Gilley 3 years ago

Here is a great essay exploring the topic of White privilege that helps illuminate basic humanitarian arguments.

Here is another more casual yet poignant essay regarding how to deal with friends who make racist statements online. Basically, email and social platforms makes it easier to identify people’s views that may otherwise not be broadcasted.

x by Michael Trigoboff 3 years ago

An article complete with research citations that refutes the claim that the high proportion of prisoners who are black is due to racism.

Is the Criminal-Justice System Racist?
No: the high percentage of blacks behind bars reflects crime rates, not bigotry.

x by Michael Trigoboff 3 years ago

A description of how UCLA tied itself in dysfunctional knots dealing with the issue of race. Hopefully we will do better here at PCC.

The Microaggression Farce
The latest campus fad, which sees racism everywhere, will create a new generation of permanent victims.

x by ricci e 3 years ago

Most of these sources provide breadth and depth to contemporary issues that should be in the back pocket of any educator willing to discuss US race relations (Brown, Trayvon and the others). We shouldn’t be afraid of knots for within them lay historical truths that continue to play out today.

• YES! holiday-55-years-before-lincoln-why-his-version-matters-today

• Slavery by Another Name (Blackman, 2008)

• The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Muhammad 2011)’s-past/

• Racism: A Short History (Fredrickson 2002)

• Racism: A History (BBC 3 part video series)

• White By Law: The Legal Construction of Race in America (Lopez 1997)

• The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Sugrue /2005)

• American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass (Massey & Denton 1998)

x by Danica Fierman 3 years ago

Thank you for putting this page together.
Additional useful links for teaching related to Ferguson —
I appreciate having a place to share resources with colleagues that support teaching and students. Thanks for all of the links and ideas.

x by Sara Seely 3 years ago

educators are posting to #fergusonsyllabus

x by ricci e 3 years ago

A thoughtful article. Please read and join our face-to-face conversation about race and our reactions to recent events this Wednesday 12/3 at Cascade

What white people need to know and do after Ferguson

x by Laura Horani 3 years ago

I found this article enlightening:

x by ricci e 3 years ago

This video does a great job helping us understand racism–its many components– as a historical and systematic process beyond mere like/dislike, selected situations, and notions of reverse racism. (PCC limited streaming rights)

The Cracking the Codes video

x by Martha Bailey 3 years ago

Here’s another link worth considering. It’s an interview with poet Claudia Rankin, who also teaches at Pomona College. It includes an activity they did with Pomona students that could lead to some interesting discussion, in particular, about the ethics of the activity.

x by Heather Mayer 3 years ago

I usually show my HST 203 students this episode of Bill Moyers Journal when we are studying the 1960s. It is about the Kerner Report, a government report published in 1968 to address the causes of urban unrest. Here is an excerpt:

“The unemployment rate was double for African-Americans, as compared to whites.
The report described communities that were neglected by their government, wracked with crime, and traumatized by police brutality.

Disproportionate rates of infant mortality were astonishing – African-American children dying at triple the rate of white children.

The statistics weren’t new. But the Kerner Commission pushed further, and laid the blame for many of these conditions on white racism: quote ‘what white Americans have never fully understood — but what the Negro can never forget — is that the white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it. White institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.’

The report’s conclusion — and it’s most memorable message — was this: ‘our nation is moving towards two societies – one white, one black – separate and unequal.'”

x by Michael Trigoboff 3 years ago

An excellent conversation about these issues from NPR:
What We Talk About When We Talk About Race In America

x by Ericka Goerling 3 years ago

A wonderful blog entry written by PCC Criminal Justice Adjunct, Richard Goerling.

x by ricci e 3 years ago

Something to follow

Fighting Gag Order, Ferguson Grand Juror Accuses Prosecutor of Mishandling Case & Misleading Public

A member of the grand jury that declined to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed African American Michael Brown is suing for the right to speak publicly about the case. The lawsuit accuses Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch of presenting possible charges to the grand jury in a “muddled and untimely manner,” and notes the case had a “stronger focus on the victim” than other cases. It also challenges “the implication that all grand jurors believed that there was no support for any charges” against Wilson. The juror is challenging a lifetime ban preventing grand jury members from discussing cases. The grand juror has been identified only as a St. Louis County resident. We are joined by Tony Rothert, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, which is representing the unnamed juror.

x by charles pace 2 years ago

Here is a link to the DOJ report:

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