Aug 26 2014

Hope in the Struggle: Chicago’s Young People Resist…


One of my touchstones, the brilliant scholar-activist Barbara Ransby, tweeted something yesterday that I agree with completely.

I write about the activism and organizing of young people in Chicago a lot. I do so because my work and purpose are focused on supporting young people to make their lives more livable. It’s been a long-term commitment. So when other adults persistently disparage and discount ‘young people these days,’ I can’t relate. The young people who I am privileged to know are some of the most talented, creative, dedicated and intelligent activists I’ve ever encountered in my now-over 25 years of organizing. This is a fact, lost on many to be sure, but true nonetheless.

Over the course of this summer, I’ve been engaged with several young people in a group called “We Charge Genocide” and I’ve paid close attention as they have taken the lead in writing a report, in creating workshops and trainings, in using social media to convey the message that oppressive policing must end, and in generously sharing their stories and talents. The source of my hope for the future is rooted in their gifts. We will win because of them.

I call out the young people of BYP 100, We Charge Genocide, Chicago Freedom School, Circles and Ciphers, Fearless Leading By the Youth, VOYCE, Chicago Students Union, Students for Health Equity, Black and Pink Chicago and many, many more that I am leaving out but are doing important work.

In just the past few weeks in Chicago, young people have spearheaded & co-organized a local National Moment of Silence vigil to commemorate the killing of Michael Brown and to stand in solidarity with the Ferguson community.

National Moment of Silence (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Bob Simpson, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Bob Simpson, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Bob Simpson, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Bob Simpson, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Bob Simpson, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Bob Simpson, 8/14/14)

They have co-organized and led several massive local marches in support of a Free Gaza and against Israeli aggression.

Chicago Stands With Palestine (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 7/5/14)

Chicago Stands With Palestine (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 7/5/14)

Chicago Stands with Palestine (photo by Richard Reilly, 7/5/14)

Chicago Stands with Palestine (photo by Richard Reilly, 7/5/14)

Chicago Stands With Palestine (Photo: Laurie Hasbrook, 7/5/14)

Chicago Stands With Palestine (Photo: Laurie Hasbrook, 7/5/14)

Chicago March Against World Silence on Gaza Massacre (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/10/14)

Chicago March Against World Silence on Gaza Massacre (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/10/14)

Chicago March Against World Silence on Gaza Massacre (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/10/14)

Chicago March Against World Silence on Gaza Massacre (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/10/14)

Chicago March Against World Silence on Gaza Massacre (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/10/14)

Chicago March Against World Silence on Gaza Massacre (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/10/14)

They have protested to demand an elected school board and quality public education.

Chicago Student Union March (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/18/14)

Chicago Student Union March (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/18/14)

Chicago Student Union March (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/18/14)

Chicago Student Union March (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/18/14)

Chicago Student Union March (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/18/14)

Chicago Student Union March (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/18/14)

Chicago Student Union March (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/18/14)

Chicago Student Union March (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/18/14)

Chicago Student Union March (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/18/14)

Chicago Student Union March (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/18/14)

They have led an action to demand an end to the unjust arrests of black people in the city.

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Obari Cartman, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Obari Cartman, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

BYP 100 Decriminalizing Black CPD Action (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee, 8/26/14)

And so much more…

I am so, so grateful that some of these wonderful young people allow me to sometimes join with them in their efforts. What a blessing and a joy! Our young people, they are alright…