Curricular connections for the Central Park Five
The recently released Central Park Five documentary concerning the 1989 Central Park jogger case and trial in which five teenagers were interrogated, arrested, tried, convicted and many years later found innocent, raises many questions about social justice, race, and the criminal justice system.
The Central Park Five
on PBS. See more from Central Park Five. The video of the documentary currently shown on PBS is available at http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/centralparkfive/
The discussion about the film with all members of the Central Park Five is available here https://livestream.com/accounts/15501555/centralpark5/videos/150835805
Some curricular connections can be found in these links:
YCTeen story "The Central Park Five:Teens served time for a crime they didn’t commit" by Jovon Ferguson
(Note : This story also contains instructions for teens and their rights and what to do if stopped by the police, as well as a link to their original coverage of the case and a poem by Ray Santana one of the accused. http://www.ycteenmag.org/issues/NYC235/Voices_From_the_Archive.html?story_id=NYC-2013-01-13b)
A crime I didn’t do
A crime that traps black people like me and you
Teens having dreams but not going to the extreme
Peer pressure from friends that will lead you to a dead end
I’m not a follower. I was just with the wrong crowd
The type of crowd that could have left me on the ground
The white man tries to put us down
But we as blacks, could turn that around
I just want to go home and get my head out of this dome
I wish I could disappear and get out of this jail atmosphere
This is not a rhyme—it’s just time.
—Ray, Spofford Voices, September 1991
Media/News Literacy Lesson: The Central Park Five
Reading Comprehension, Discussion, and Written Response (some based on archival articles)
Presumed Guilty: Protecting the Accused (Grades 6-12)
(In this lesson, students will analyze a criminal case in Mexico involving an innocent man convicted of homicide. Students will identify and explain the protections for the accused that are outlined in the United States Constitution and infer how such protections might have affected the case in Mexico.)
What Happens Inside Prison?- Lesson Plan ( High School)
(Three student readings offer a case study of what happened to one mentally ill prisoner; a summary of a critical report on America's prisons; and some additional facts and figures. Discussion questions, a writing assignment, subjects for further inquiry and suggestions for citizenship activities follow.)
To Kill A Mockingbird and the Scottsboro Boys Trial: Profiles in Courage ( Grades 9-12)
(Two part lesson: Lesson One asks students to read To Kill A Mockingbird carefully with an eye for all instances and manifestations of courage, but particularly those of moral courage. Lesson Two also requires students to study select court transcripts and other primary source material from the second Scottsboro Boys Trial of 1933, a continuation of the first trial in which two young white women wrongfully accused nine African-American youths of rape.)
Using Editorial Cartoons to Teach Social Justice ( Grades 6-8; Grades 9-12)
http://www.tolerance.org/activity/using-editorial-cartoons-teach-social-justice ( Using Editorial Cartoons to Teach Social Justice is a series of 14 lessons. Each lesson focuses on a contemporary social justice issue. These lessons are multidisciplinary and geared toward middle and high school students.Students enjoy editorial cartoons. Visual, engaging and often funny, they’re great learning tools. However, editorial cartoons can be challenging because they often require a lot of prior knowledge. These lessons provide strategies for using what students already know to analyze cartoons that may seem difficult to interpret.In addition, these lessons will expand students’ knowledge of social justice issues. They can be used to supplement another lesson or readings, or they can stand alone.)
Rag and Bone Shop Activity
A young adult novel , The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier is about the interrogation of a an introverted twelve-year-old accused in a high profile murder case.
This discussion guide can supplement issues found in the book and highlight similar issues in the Central Park Five case.