Middle and high school students in San Diego, California will be encouraged to vent their frustration that the world lacks justice when they return to school and participate in the “Trayvon Martin dialogues” this fall.
The board of San Diego Unified Schools unanimously approved a proposal recently to establish classroom forums to discuss the death of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was shot during an altercation with a Hispanic man, George Zimmerman, in Florida last year. A jury recently acquitted Zimmerman, who claimed that Martin struck first and shot him in self-defense.
The sponsors of San Diego’s Trayvon Martin dialogues, however, believe the resolution of the case has produced in teenagers “feelings of fear, anger, and skepticism that they will live in a just society,” according to The College Fix.
The full proposal calls for forum participants to explicitly condemn “stand your ground” laws, which permit citizens to use force to defend themselves in dangerous situations instead of retreating. Florida’s law was erroneously credited with prompting the conflict between Martin and Zimmerman, though the matter never became a significant factor at the trial, since Zimmerman had no option to retreat, according to his official testimony.
The dialogues will “allow students to talk about the world view that prompted George Zimmerman to confront Trayvon Martin,” and “allow students to speak honestly about the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws that could give one person an unfair advantage over another and the pros and cons of their perceptions,” according to the proposal.
Marne Foster, a San Diego school board member and sponsor of the proposal, said that she had three black sons, and that any one of the could have suffered a fate similar to Martin’s.
“They are still living in a time reminiscent of Emmitt Till,” said Foster, referencing a black teenager who was beaten to death by a white mob in 1955.
Another school board member vowed that the dialogues would teach kids the truth about Martin and civil rights in the U.S.
“(We’ll) carefully and methodically look at what happened and analyzed this,” said John Lee Evans, a member of the school board. “This is an important teachable moment.”
The proposal is in line with a recent survey that asked teachers how they planned to discuss the Zimmerman case with their students. Several said the case would be brought up in reference to lessons about vigilantism and racial injustice. (RELATED: You won’t believe what teachers plan to tell kids about Trayvon Martin)
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