On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was pulled over by police near Saint Paul, Minnesota after being misidentified as a robbery suspect. He was then shot and killed by an officer during the traffic stop.

To most of the world, he became a name in a major news story, but to over 400 kids at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, Castile was their “lunch man.” He managed the cafeteria, where the students called him Mr. Phil.

For black parents at the school — and across America — this brought up all too familiar conversations about safety and race. But for some white parents, like Chad Eisen-Ramgren, it wasn’t a conversation they’d ever been confronted with before. At StoryCorps, he sat down with his 10-year-old daughter, Leila, who was in the third grade when Castile was killed. She had known Mr. Phil since kindergarten.


Top photo: Leila Ramgren with her father, Chad Eisen-Ramgren in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Courtesy of Chad Eisen-Ramgren.
Bottom photo: A letter that Leila Ramgren wrote as a third-grader to Philando Castile, who she knew as Mr. Phil, after he was killed by a police officer in 2016. Courtesy of Chad Eisen-Ramgren.

Originally aired July 6, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.