Book 6: Dear Martin

September 10, 6-8 p.m.

Rsz dear martin

For Discussion:

1. Reread Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s opening quotation on the page before Part One: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional
love will have the final word in reality.” —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Why do you think the author selected this quotation to
open the book? Do you agree with MLK’s words? Do you think truth and love will always win over the negative that occurs in society?

2. After “The Incident,” Justyce writes letters to Martin (Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) to make sense of his feelings. He discusses what happened to Shemar Carson in Nevada and realizes that his good character does not make him “exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with” (12). How has “The Incident” changed the way Justyce thinks about his life? About society?

3. What does it mean to be indicted in the US legal system? What is Justyce’s reaction when he finds out that the officer who killed Shemar Carson was not indicted? (19–20)

4. After learning that Shemar Carson was previously arrested, Jared states: “You don’t get arrested if you’re not doing anything wrong. Bottom line, he was a criminal” (27). Do you agree with this statement? Research if there has ever been anyone in Baltimore (or the surrounding areas who was unjustly arrested. Record your results for discussion.

5. Do you think Justyce’s guilt for liking SJ is justified? Do you think he should respect his mother’s wishes to never “bring home a white girl” (51)?

6. In his letter to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Justyce writes “There was some white dude on TV after the Tavarrius Jenkins thing broke talking about how cases like his and Shemar Carson’s ‘deflect from the issue of black-on-black crime,’ but how are black people supposed to know how to treat each other with respect when since we were brought over here, we’ve been told we’re not respectable?” (95). In a brief letter to Justyce, respond to his question.

7. Defend Mr. Julian’s statement: “People often learn more from getting an undeserved pass than they would from being punished” (113).

8. How has Justyce’s tone in his letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed from Part One? Why is this significant?

9. What assumptions are made by the media to depict Justyce? Where have you previously seen similar stereotypes in the media?

10. In the courtroom scene, Justyce is being crossexamined by the defense attorney (185–192). Did the defense attorney create doubt? Did she justify Manny’s murder?

11. While SJ and Justyce watch a National Geographic show on monarch butterflies, SJ asks “Why can’t we all get along like butterflies?” (195). What is significant about Justyce’s thought that follows: “Jus wonders if she [SJ] notices that all those butterflies look exactly alike” (196)?

12. How has Jared changed since Manny’s death? Can you envision Jared and Justyce becoming friendly in the future?