Ferguson Syllabus

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In the wake of civil unrest and protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Professor Marcia Chatelain of Georgetown University created the #FergusonSyllabus Twitter campaign. Ferguson syllabus provides a space for educators to discuss integrating the events happening in Ferguson into classrooms.[1]

Background[edit]

On August 9, 2014 an unarmed and noncompliant black teenager, Michael Brown, was fatally shot by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. The disputed details of Brown’s death sparked protests and civil unrest in Ferguson, across the United States, and internationally.[2] The dispute arose from dueling narratives of why and how the altercation occurred. Officer Wilson and eyewitnesses argued different accounts of what happened.[3] This confusion, along with aggressive policing following Brown’s death, led to heated debate and examination of the relationship between policing practices and communities of color. The protests and civil unrest continued on November 24, 2014 after a St. Louis grand jury found Darren Wilson not guilty of criminal charges.[4] After the verdict was announced protests flared in Ferguson and in nearly every major U.S. city. On November 29, 2014, Darren Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department with no severance or benefits.[5] Although over $500,000 was raised by Wilson’s supporters via crowdfunding.[6]

On March 4, 2015 The United States Department of Justice announced the findings of the its two civil rights investigations into the Ferguson Police Department. The Justice Department found that the Ferguson Police Department “engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.”[7] In Ferguson—a city with a population of 21,000–16,000 people have outstanding arrest warrants, meaning that they are currently actively wanted by the police. In other words, if you were to take four people at random, the Ferguson police would consider three of them fugitives.[8] The Justice Department also stated, “That the evidence examined in its independent, federal investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown does not support federal civil rights charges against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.”[9]

Purpose[edit]

Ferguson syllabus is a crowdsourced syllabus about race, African American history, civil rights, and policing.[10] Ferguson syllabus was created as a way to integrate conversations of what happened in Ferguson into classrooms. Dr. Marcia Chatelain, graduate from University of Missouri-Columbia and assistant professor of history at Georgetown University, created the hashtag #fergusonsyllabus so that educators could have a platform to discuss the national crisis in Ferguson, Missouri.[11] Chatelain describes it as, “What emerged was a small call for community across the sometimes impersonal and expansive digital world.”[12]

Chatelain contacted her colleagues in and across her discipline to use Twitter as a mechanism to recommend texts, collaborate on conversation starters, and inspire dialogue about some aspect of the Ferguson events. Chatelain argues, “The academy has never owned movements, and youth outside of colleges longed for intelligent questions, honest reflection, and inspiration moving forward."[12] Collegiate professors, high school teachers, early education specialists, guidance counselors and middle-school instructors wanted ideas on how to hold purposeful dialogues around this issue. #FergusonSyllabus has now become a virtual movement used to frame how struggle has shaped American history, infused works of art and literature, and given voice to those most hurt by the failures of leadership, capitalism, and democracy.

Applications[edit]

Freedom Ferguson Library[edit]

Freedom Ferguson Library is a campaign asking people who benefited from learning from the Ferguson syllabus to consider donating an item to an under-resourced school, prison literacy program, or community center. Professor Marcia Chatelain has asked that people write (or make a nameplate) with a message including the words, Ferguson Freedom Library. The expression Freedom Library comes from the Freedom Summer Project of 1964. Civil rights activists created Freedom Schools to educate children and adults.[1]

Ferguson Theater Syllabus[edit]

Inspired by the #FergusonSyllabus, actors and playwrights crowdsourced a list from the Ferguson Moment Facebook group, asking specifically for plays that provide opportunities for conversation around this particular historical moment: the shooting of Michael Brown and the response to that shooting by citizens, law enforcement and the justice system, in Ferguson and in other places like it around the nation.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The #Ferguson Syllabus". college.georgetown.edu. 2014-08-27.
  2. ^ "Documents Released in the Ferguson Case". The New York Times. 2014-11-25. ISSN 0362-4331.
  3. ^ Staff, CNN (2014-08-19). "Dueling narratives in Michael Brown shooting". CNN.
  4. ^ Davey, Monica; Bosman, Julie (2014-11-24). "Protests Flare After Ferguson Police Officer Is Not Indicted". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  5. ^ "Missouri officer in fatal shooting resigned without severance: mayor". Reuters. 2014-12-01.
  6. ^ Brown, Carolyn M. (2014-09-05). "Over $500,000 In Crowdfunding Raised For Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson". Black Enterprise.
  7. ^ "Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department" (PDF). US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. 2015-03-04.
  8. ^ Robinson, Nathan (2015-03-13). "The Shocking Finding From the DOJ's Ferguson Report That Nobody Has Noticed". Huffington Post.
  9. ^ "Justice Department Announces Findings of Two Civil Rights Investigations in Ferguson, Missouri". US Department of Justice. 2015-03-04.
  10. ^ Chatelain, Marcia (2014-08-25). "How to Teach Kids About What's Happening in Ferguson". The Atlantic.
  11. ^ "Faculty - Marcia Chatelain". Georgetown University.
  12. ^ a b Chatelain, Marcia (2014-11-28). "Teaching the #FergusonSyllabus | Dissent Magazine". Dissent Magazine.
  13. ^ Alick, Claudia; Sandberg-Zakian, Megan (2014-12-17). "The Ferguson Theatre Syllabus". American Theatre.

External links[edit]