*No one is born racist. No one is born mean and unkind. No one is born without the capability to show compassion. These are all learned characteristics and behaviors. So who better, in addition to a parent, to teach our children how to be colorblind, kind and compassionate people than an elementary school teacher?
Someone who is in the classroom each day guiding them, teaching them, about the world around them. But its unfortunate, when teachers are punished for thinking on their feet. Teachers who are passionate about teaching and encourage their students to participate in life. This is probably what a New Jersey elementary school teacher thought she was doing when she had her third grade class write letters to incarcerated journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal.
But this teacher is getting no commendation, instead she may be fired.
Marilyn Zunig may have learned about the ailing journalist the same way most of the country did. Abu-Jamal was in the news lately because of an ailment he suffered from diabetes-related complications. So when the Forest Street School teacher decided to show her students how they could demonstrate an act of compassion by sending ‘Get Well’ letters to the ailing man, instead of being commended, she was threatened with being fired.
Zunig dropped the finished letters off to Johanna Fernandez, a professor at Baruch College and fellow supporter of Abu-Jamal. Feeling rather proud of what the students had accomplished Zunig then tweeted, “Just dropped off these letters to comrade Johanna Fernandez. My 3rd graders wrote to Mumia to lift up his spirits as he is ill. #freemumia”
Fernandez sent word that Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther serving life in prison for the murder of white Philadelphia Officer Daniel Faulkner, enjoyed the letters.
Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence.
“It had been a long time since we had seen Mumia smile. He chuckled as he read excerpts from these touching letters,” Fernandez wrote.
As of now no further word about the teacher and her job is available. And Abu-Jamal, who was originally sentenced to the death penalty, before that sentence was thrown out by a federal appeals court in 2008 due to flawed jury instructions, has not been quoted either.
Abu-Jamal’s wife says her husband is still “very weak.”
Abu-Jamal’s blood sugar level was extremely high when he was rushed to the hospital. And according to the New York Times Fernandez now asks, “The situation Mumia was in yesterday morning was a near-death experience, so we want to know: How is it that the prison system allowed this condition to deteriorate in such a way?”
So we ask you readers: Should this teacher lose her job for having her students demonstrate an act of compassion and send kind words to Mumia? I say, ‘hello no!’
ThisNthat readers, we’ve done it before in great numbers. Let’s do it again! Show your support for Marilyn Zunig and tweet:#getoffmarilynzunigsback