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Ferguson- Perspectives: Ferguson : Perspectives

Get an idea of the issues at play surrounding the officer-involved shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri in Summer 2014.

Questions to Ask

The complex issues at play surrounding the death of Michael Brown during the fall of 2014 in Ferguson, MO are numerous. Many questions come to mind when we think about the whole picture- here are a few:

  • How is the experience of being 'black' in the US different from other cultural and socio-economic realities?
  • How do we weigh social order (rule of law) against the need for social justice (fairness and equality)? How does the conflict between police and protesters underscore this consideration?
  • Why, of the total number of people pulled over in Ferguson, are black citizens more than twice as likely to be arrested as white citizens ? (source DOJ Report on Ferguson Policing - p. 65, 3rd paragraph)
  • What are the socio-economic factors that cause this disparity? How have patterns of neighborhood construction in history created or exacerbated tensions between communities of color and local law enforcement?
  • How might law-enforcement and government officials see this conflict differently than citizens?

Perspectives

Books Available @ Your Library

NPR's Michele Martin Moderates Panel Discussion- Beyond Ferguson

Ferguson Video

Further reading on Ferguson

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Ferguson- Discussion

We Live Here

Government Documents on Ferguson

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Point

After his arrest in 1963 for civil disobedience (while protesting racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama)- Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote to his fellow clergymen- in this letter he says:

I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

-excerpt from 'Letter from Birmingham Jail,' 1963

Mapping Decline- Interactive Map

Department of Justice

Recent Developments : Links

Jefferson College Library

If you have suggestions for materials to add to this LibGuide- please email jkohlbur@jeffco.edu. We want ot provide as fair a picture of this complex issue as possible.