Thursday, February 4, 2016

Lessons for Students: How One Community Chose to Respond to Hate

On the morning of August 5, 2012, six worshippers were murdered at a Sikh temple in the small Midwestern town of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Many of the persons present at the time of the shooting were women and children. The lone gunman identified himself as a white supremacist. The senseless violence was halted by the bravery of Lieutenant Brian Murphy, shot 15 times during the attack. Too often we hear similar stories of hate and racism and less frequently do we hear about how families of victims, schools and communities come together to grieve and to remember, to rebuild and work together to ensure that such violence doesn’t happen again.  

The documentary film, Waking in Oak Creek, reveals those difficult and necessary parts of the healing process in the year following the tragedy. It is a powerful film to show with students as they watch young temple members find their voice and emerge as leaders to end hate crimes and how a diverse community grows, supports, and grieves with them. As the film descriptor reads, “together, a community rocked by hate is awakened and transformed by the Sikh spirit of relentless optimism.”

At a time when it is unfortunately necessary to weed out hate and misinformation from the immigration debate, this film is apt and impactful. It is great way to continue a discussion on the benefits of inclusion and diversity. It is also a means to talk about resilience, the power of community, and youth voice from multicultural perspectives. 

To stream the film in its entirety (34:00) and download supplemental resources on the film page, please click here.

To request a free DVD for your classroom screening, faculty training, or community event, please click here.

Waking in Oak Creek is presented as part of Not In Our Town's Working Together for Safe, Inclusive Communities collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Not In Our Town offers free supplemental resources including an educator lesson plan, a video showing students sending a symbol of peace to Oak Creek, and a short film collection: Talking About Immigrants.

If you would like to share your ideas about how you are discussing immigration issues in your classroom or how you plan on discussing these issues, we would love to hear from you. Please email if you have any questions or if you’d like to learn more about opportunities for professional development, community grants, and other programs that can enhance your teaching and learning. View our immigration-themed lesson plans, book/film reviews and follow us on twitter @ThnkImmigration #teachimmigration.

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