“In moments like the reaction to Brown’s death, we need more engagement, not less, and each of us has something to offer.” – David M. Perry

Michael Brown’s death and the resulting protests in Ferguson, Missouri, have inspired academics and educators on Twitter to voice the imperative to talk about the event with their students. Under the hashtag, #FergusonSyllabus, founded by Dr. Marcia Chatelain of Georgetown, is a collection of links to books, articles, and primary testimony meant to provoke thought about the subject. The compilation of widely shared and retweeted links draws from a variety of disciplines and perspectives.

[VIDEO: PBS News Hour Correspondent Jeffrey Brown speaks with #FergusonSyllabus creator Marcia Chatelain of Georgetown University and Liz Collins of Washington Latin Public Charter School]

 To #FergusonSyllabus, we’d like to contribute several suggestions for news footage and clips from documentaries. Paired with these clips are references to suggested readings, many from Chatelain, meant to stimulate discussion about social justice, protest, and the roles of news media and perspective.

VIDEO: “Live-streamers vs. reporters in Ferguson,” November 17, 2014. CNN’s Brian Stelter speaks with reporter Sara Snider and activist Bassem Masri.

VIDEO: “CNN interview gets testy over Ferguson protests,” November 24, 2014.

Summaries: CNN’s Michael Smerconish speaks with Bassem Masri about the escalating protests in Ferguson, Missouri Bassem Masri is a citizen journalist and activist living in Ferguson, Missouri, who has been arrested for provocative language and behavior, such as cursing and physically confronting police officers with his smart phone camera. Masri defends his actions, citing that “[Police and their supporters] get mad because I curse. This is St. Louis. We curse. When I’m mad this is what I do.” Masri’s behavior, as well as police and media response, shed light on the topics of peaceful protest and response, free speech, and the relationship between language and violence.

Suggested readings:
– Clarence Lang, “On Ferguson, Missouri: History, Protest, and ‘Respectability’,” August 17, 2014
– Eric H. Holder, Jr, “A Message to the People of Ferguson,” August 20, 2014.

VIDEO: “Ferguson unrest attracting activists from across the nation.”

Summary: RT America’s Ameera David speaks to activist Carl Dix on the subject of protest, arrest, and rallying national support on August 20, 2014. Dix, who came in from New York for the protests, was arrested along with 78 other activists. He describes the police response: “There’s great worry here about people here continuing to stand up and demand justice… people can’t stand and congregate anywhere, they have to keep moving. If they are not walking fast enough in the protest area, they get threatened with arrest.”

Suggested readings:
– Jay Caspian Kang, “Ferguson Freedom Summer,” August 19, 2014. Kang compares the protests to the civil rights movement, and calls attention to the need for white support.
– Frederica Boswell, “Ferguson Killing Inspires Young Activists,” August 20, 2014. Several young activists explain their perspective on the events, and how they are contributing to the cause.

VIDEO: ‘Am I Next?’: Ferguson’s Protests Through the Eyes of a Teenager.” Transient Pictures. Emotions of the city of Ferguson reflected through Shane Flowers.


VIDEO: ABC News interview. Police Officer Darren Wilson speaks with ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos after his grand jury testimony is released on November 24, 2014.

Suggested readings:
Darren Wilson’s testimony from the grand jury proceedings.
– David Perry’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “#Ferguson Syllabus,” November 25, 2014, calls on all academics, particularly humanities scholars, to consider the dynamics of “language and power,” and the role they play in Wilson’s account of the events.

VIDEO: CBS This Morning, November 25, 2014. Interview with Michael Brown’s parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, and their attorney Benjamin Crump.

Suggested reading:
– “‘We have to make them feel us’: Open Letters and Black Mothers’ Grief.” Emily Owens, African American Intellectual History blog, August 20, 2014.

VIDEO: Jon Lowenstein’s short documentary highlights demonstrations and police response in Ferguson, as well as in N. St. Louis after the death of Kaijeme Powell.

VIDEO: Rapper Immortal Technique on VLADTV, August 28, 2014. Immortal Technique speaks on police violence and the need for youth activists. “There should never be a military entity governing over civilians the way we see in Ferguson,” he says. Criticizes the Obama administration for lack of response.

Suggested reading:
– Kara Dansky’s “The Real Reason Ferguson has Military Weapons,” August 19, 2014. Questions the militarization of police, and notes the impact on communities of color.

VIDEO: President Obama’s full statement on Ferguson grand jury decision from PBS News Hour, Nov 24, 2014.


VIDEO: “Giuliani Addresses ‘Black On Black Crime’,” NBC News, Nov 24, 2014.

Suggested reading:
– Tobias Wolf, “The Heart of Whiteness,” August 15, 2014. Wolf explores his own underlying biases. He reflects on incarceration rates, and considers that many “civic-minded” white jurors with “good” intentions may in fact be “betrayed by some reflex[es] or habit[s] of mind,” which reinforce existing patterns of injustice in the American judicial system.

Additional links:

Larry Ferlazzo, “Teaching Ideas For #Ferguson #MichaelBrown,” August 20, 2014.