» About the Film:
In The O.J. Verdict, FRONTLINE examines what began as a double homicide in 1994 near Santa Monica, Calif., and quickly became a media mega-story. In the 372 days that the O.J. Simpson murder trial lasted, television recorded, discussed and analyzed the proceedings. Public opinion polls showed that America quickly polarized along racial lines. "Most white Americans believed Simpson was obviously guilty before the trial ever started, [and] most white Americans feared that the defense would do something unethical and use racism to get a predominantly African American jury to acquit an obviously guilty defendant," says UCLA law professor and former ABC News consultant, Peter Arenella. Marc Watts, who was a correspondent with CNN at the time and one of the few African Americans covering the trial, says, "[In] the trial, everything is about race. Black people deal with race everyday. Whites who said it's not a trial about race speak that way because they haven't been on the receiving end of injustices at the hands of a white person."
The FRONTLINE documentary, The O.J. Verdict, examines both the trial and the explosive reaction that erupted afterward along racial lines: black men and women celebrating victory in the streets, while outraged white Americans decried a miscarriage of justice. Ten years afterward, as the documentary shows, the verdict still evokes heated and disparate opinions.
For classes in Social Studies, American Government, Current Events, Language Arts, Media Studies. Grade level 9th - 12th.
» A Note to Teachers:
Discussing race in the classroom poses enormous challenges since students are often reluctant to speak openly if they are afraid of insulting other classmates or being misunderstood. Before watching the documentary, students and their teacher should discuss what rules they would like to establish for discussing the difficult issues surrounding race. How can students agree to deal with an uncomfortable moment or with someone who says something inappropriate?
Teachers can find useful guidelines for "Facilitating Discussions on Racism, Prejudice, and Discrimination" in the FRONTLINE Teacher's Guide for another documentary: A Class Divided. The link to these guidelines for discussion is: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/teach/divided/assignment1.html#note
A list of questions focusing on media awareness for students to discuss before viewing the film.
» Featured Lesson Plan:
» Additional Lesson Ideas:
» Purchasing the Film:
This teacher's guide was developed by Simone Bloom Nathan of Media Education Consultants. It was written by Ellen Greenblatt of University High School, San Francisco. Advisers were Patricia Grimmer of Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Ill.; Debra Plafker Gutt, Stuyvesant High School, N.Y.; and Greg Timmons, curriculum writer/educational consultant.