A Pontiac, MI middle school teacher was recently fired for hosting a fundraiser with her class for the Trayvon Martin family to support legal fees.
Brooke Harris, 26, is a former teacher at the Pontiac Academy for Excellence. Following the death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old teenage who was gunned down as he walked to his father’s fiancé’s from picking up snacks, Harris assigned her students an editorial-writing assignment on the shooting, according to the Associated Press. She also reportedly supported her students’ efforts to plan a wear-a-hoodie-to-school day.
“I want to be back. I want my job. I don’t want to make a fool of anyone,” she said. “I just want to be back in my classroom teaching my kids.”
Harris’ firing has gained the support of many local groups, including King Solomon Baptist Church and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Charles Williams, Pastor of King Solomon Baptist Church, urged the school to hire Harris back to her teaching job.
“We are calling unequivocally on the principal and the board members of the Pontiac Academy to rehire her and reinstate her immediately,” he said.
In a press conference, Dawud Wallid, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told attendees “we’re ready to protest” and “we’re ready to march.”
“We’re even ready to give you legal counsel if necessary because we can’t settle this in the streets nonviolently then maybe we need to settle this in the courts of law,” he said.
Harris said she’s “confused” because she thought she was “doing everything right.”
“I thought I was giving my kids a safe space to express their opinions,” she said. “I was letting them write about topics that were relevant and interesting to them.”
Superintendent Jacqueline Cassell told AP she couldn’t discuss personnel matters but that she wanted students to focus on learning, not activism.
“I’m a child of the civil rights movement,” Cassell said to AP. But “this is not the time in the school year” to distract students from academics.
Harris said she misses her students and wishes to be back teaching them again.
“I want to be back with my kids,” she said. “I miss them.”