Sean Bell was murdered on Nov. 25, 2006. Teacher and author Renee Watson describes how she teaches about the murder of Bell and so many other people of color by the police in “The Murder of Sean Bell: From Pain to Poetry” in Rethinking Schools.
“I’m afraid that one day I’ll be shot by the cops for no reason,” a 7th-grade student blurted out in our class discussion. My teaching partner and I had asked students to call out their hopes and fears.
“What do you hope for your community? What is it about your community that makes you afraid?” we asked. I wrote their answers on chart paper and by the end of the discussion, our class list included better schools, more parks, peace, and safer neighborhoods.
Our list also included violence, drugs, bullying, and police brutality.