On the 26th day of a hunger strike organized by eleven Chicago parents and a clergyman, three more people vowed to join the group in protesting the closure and ultimate reopening of Walter H. Dyett High School — a predominantly Black school that serves the city’s South Side.
The hunger strike, which began Aug. 17, aimed to bring attention to the closure of the school in June, and the Chicago Public School system’s refusal to decide on three proposals that would “guide the reopening” of the school, the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Just days ago, the city announced they would reopen the building — this time as an arts-focused high school.
According to the Sun-Times:
Last week, CPS threw out three proposals it had solicited and announced instead that the district will reopen as an open-enrollment high school in the historic school building near Washington Park that will focus on the arts. That’s an homage to Capt. Walter Henri Dyett, who was a longtime CPS music director at Phillips and DuSable high schools.
Chief academic officer Janice Jackson said it would draw students from all over the city. CPS took pieces from the proposals of an arts focus, suggested by the Little Black Pearl arts organization, and an innovation lab from the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett, which wanted the Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology Community High School, she said.
The group, frustrated that CPS ignored their wishes to open the school as the Global Leadership and Green Technology High School, plan to continue their hunger strike with help from Rev. Jesse Jackson, who will negotiate a list of demands on their behalf.
“The hunger strike continues and we want the world to know that [Chicago Mayor] Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools do not respect or care about the voices of black families,” Jitu Brown, the group’s leader, told the Sun Times.
Brown on Friday announced the group is seeking several demands, including green technology and global leadership in its curriculum; a ‘sustainable school village’ with a coalition of local school councils; for the school to be open until 8 p.m. every day with programs created by the community; an immediate publicly elected local school council; and at least six members of their coalition part of their design plans.
Emanuel has long been criticized for the targeting and closure of schools in the Black community. Two years ago, the controversial mayor shut the doors to 50 schools, forcing many students to travel far — and often times through crime-ridden neighborhoods — to attend school.
Members of the hunger strike have been drinking liquids and holding night vigils outside of Obama’s Kenwood home, the Sun-Times reports. So far, three people have been hospitalized.
SOURCE: Chicago Sun-Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
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