homeprevious reportswatch onlineusteacher centernewsletteremail FRONTLINEFRONTLINE (home)
the o.j. verdict

» Student Handout: The Main Characters and Issues of the Case

Part One Directions: Using the Web sites provided, identify the following.

  1. What was the accusation against O.J. Simpson?
  2. Why had O.J. Simpson become famous before the murder case?
  3. Who was the main defense lawyer for O.J. Simpson?
  4. What was the role of the bloody glove? What role did DNA play in the prosecution case?
  5. How did the defense rebut the prosecution case?
  6. What role did the Los Angeles Police Department's Mark Fuhrman play?
  7. Generally, what was the reaction to the verdict in the African American community? Generally, what was the reaction to the verdict in the white community?

Part Two Directions: In the short passage below from Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O. J. Simpson by Linda Williams, Dr. Williams uses To Kill A Mockingbird to set the reader up for the contrast she sees in the O.J. Simpson trial and aftermath.

"In the post-civil rights era, the classic version of the race trial has been Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, followed in 1962 by a popular film directed by Robert Mulligan. In this story, a black man is falsely accused of rape by poor white southerners, and a noble white defense attorney endures the scorn of his racist neighbors to defend him...It is a story typically told from either a safe historical or geographical distance, permitting the racial victims and villains to be clearly marked as figures out of a racially prejudiced time (the past) or place (the deep South). We can tell by his sweat in the overheated courtroom that the white man has falsely accused the black man. We know that even if justice is not done, that we, the audience-jury, will feel righteously condemnatory about the racial injustice—it is southern, it is archaic. If put in the position of jury we can be certain that we would judge more fairly" (p. 259).
  • In your own words, explain the point she is making in the passage.

In the short passage that follows, Dr. Williams describes and analyzes what happened when the verdict was read at the televised Simpson trial.

"In the climactic verdict of the O.J. Simpson criminal trial...the melodrama of black and white became a melodrama of the differences in black and white perception...Finally, there was the subsequent phenomenon of the embittered reactions to the reactions: 'black indignation at white anger at black jubilation at Simpson's acquittal'"(258).
  • In your own words, explain the point she is making in the passage.

home » previous reports » watch online » about us » teacher center » newsletter » email FRONTLINE
privacy policy » wgbh » pbsi

new content copyright ©1996-2004 pbs online and wgbh/frontline