By Kymone Freeman
“Things gotta change and it’s up to us to change it” – Chelsea James
These were the words of a 17-year-old senior at King H.S. who helped organize a peaceful march in protest of the rampant violence in Chicago that the school, the mayor and until recently, the president ignored in his hometown. The irony of symbolism isn’t lost on the fact that a school named after Dr. Martin Luther King, prince of peace and non-violence who himself was gunned down, is now the site of the rumblings of a renewed movement in the Fight Against Violence.
“Silence is betrayal” -MLK
Now is the time to speak out. Hadiya’s murder is serving as our modern day Emmett Till with an open casket funeral exposing the senseless violence and brutality that has claimed far too many young people’s lives in this country. We need to look beyond punitive responses or political footballs of the hypocrisy of gun control in inner cities while the surrounding suburbs are open air gun stores. Rather, we need to confront the sources of violence such as ignorance and poverty. We don’t need the reactionary call simply for more police to further the Prison Industrial Complex whose Wall Street financial success is dependent largely upon society’s failures.
Mr. President, if you weren’t president, this could have been your daughter, but this is our Emmett Till moment in history. But we must differentiate between a massive moment and a massive movement. This could be a moment for photo ops, hugs and promises. Or this could be a movement to #PUSHOBAMA; for a poverty program that includes a guaranteed income, school curriculum reform that includes A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, Trade School w/ a job program, a National Townhall in Chicago televised with real community leaders. (not Jesse Jackson + Al Sharpton) It would be great to see Common, Kanye West, and Lupe Fiasco come home to speak and draw the young people out. It could be televised on local station OWN with Barack Obama or Michelle Obama forced to sit there for 2hours and take our demands.
During the march lead by Chelsea James and others they demanded: Mayor Emanuel to create 2,000 part-time jobs and another 2,000 summer jobs specifically for youth. They wanted extended hours at their schools with an emphasis on social and recreational programs and they wanted parental involvement to become a mandatory condition of certain school programs.
So take a moment and join the movement in the Fight Against Violence #FAV. Share the video and send in your pic or name of a loved one or do as Tyrese Gibson said on his recent interview on WGCI 107.5 FM, “Enjoy the comforts of your home, while our children are dying.”