Activist Action: Petition to Reinstate Brooke Harris Fired for Teaching About Trayvon Martin

Pat: I received this email from today and wanted to share with you. If you are supportive of this action, please read the following letter, the follow the links to sign the petition. Feel free to copy this post and distribute far and wide. Thank you!


Brooke Harris loved her job teaching eighth grade at an inner-city charter school in Michigan — but Brooke says she was fired for teaching her kids about Trayvon Martin, an African-American teen who was recently shot and killed because someone thought he looked suspicious.

Brooke Harris, literature teacher, Pontiac Academy for Excellence, Michigan

Brooke’s kids had heard about Trayvon, and she saw they wanted to know more in partbecause they identified with him: “They are young, black and brown kids who walk to the corner store after school every day,” Brooke says. “They’ve been stopped by police because they ‘looked like’ some kids who did something illegal.”

Many of Brooke’s students wanted to go beyond writing essays and classroom discussions — they wanted to raise money for Trayvon’s family. For helping the kids plan the fundraiser, Brooke says that she was suspended and eventually fired, and that she was told, “you’re a teacher, not an activist.” 

Now there’s a petition on demanding that Brooke’s school, the Pontiac Academy of Excellence, give Brooke back her job, and her students back their teacher. The folks at the Southern Poverty Law Center — a group that does a lot of work to combat racism — started the campaign because they think it’s wrong to fire someone for teaching about Trayvon Martin.

Click here to sign their petition to re-hire Brooke Harris.

Brooke brought the idea for a fundraiser to the school superintendent, Jacqueline Cassell. Rather than embracing the students’ idea, Brooke says, Superintendent Cassell rejected the fundraiser, then refused to meet with Brooke’s students when they wanted to appeal her decision.

It gets worse: Brooke says she was suspended for two days just for asking for the meeting, and that when she tried to clarify what she had done wrong, she was suspended for two weeks, and then fired.

“I just feel bad for my kids,” Brooke says. “I hope I haven’t let them down.”

If thousands of people speak out for Brooke by signing the petition to get her job back, Superintendent Cassell won’t be able to sweep the issue under the rug. Pontiac’s next school board meeting is in one week, so Brooke says it’s especially important to gather as many signatures as possible before then.

Click here to sign the Southern Poverty Law Center’s petition demanding that the Pontiac Academy for Excellence reinstate Brooke Harris, who says she was fired for teaching about Trayvon Martin.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

Michael and the team

Pat: Read the Washington Post article here.

About Pat Donworth, D.Min.

I express myself as teacher, writer, and consciousness explorer. These driving interests have manifested in my work/service as a university and hospital chaplain; a book and magazine writer/editor, and teacher and workshop leader. I designed this blog to be a portal that points to and assists awakening souls to implement, and make practical, the changes that will usher in a new world based on unity, compassion, and collaboration.
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