BRx28 — Dying For Change: The Dyett Hunger Strike
The fight for education claimed the lives of many of our foremothers and forefathers. In 2015, these Black Chi-town natives risked their own to save their neighborhood school.
When the city of Chicago’s divestment from public schools threatened to close Walter H. Dyett High School, a historically Black school on the city’s Southside, community organizers waged a year-long campaign to halt the closure. To keep the school open, the Journey for Justice Alliance, an Advancement Project partner, waged a 34-day hunger strike to pressure the district to reverse course.
“When you go to a middle-class white community you don’t see charter schools, contract schools or alternative schools. You see effective, K-12 systems of educations in their neighborhoods. Our children deserve the same,” said Jitu Brown [national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance and] a community activist who took part the hunger strike.
“They just ignore us because they were hell-bent on closing this school and several other schools in this neighborhood, as if there’s no hope for black kids in neighborhood schools, and that’s just not true,” he said.
“In order to get this completely renovated school where they’ve invested more than $14 million … look what we had to do,” Brown said. “We had to risk our lives.”
The result? Dyett High School opened in 2016 with a new arts-focused curriculum and sparkling new amenities.
Journey for Justice Alliance’s work is not over. This month, the group launched their #WeChoose campaign centered on education equity and ending school privatization. The seven-month effort will focus on ending zero-tolerance policies, creating sustainable community schools and eliminating the over-reliance on standardized testing.
Learn more at the Journey for Justice website.
Follow the campaign on social media using #WeChoose