CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 1,000 Chicago children were making a statement Thursday morning about violence in their neighborhoods.
CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports students of the Perspectives Charter Schools staged a peace march on the South Side, followed by a rally in the Bronzeville neighborhood.
The students walked for more than a mile from Perspectives Rodney D. Joslin Campus near State and Cermak to the Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy campus at 36th and Wabash.
The students were hoping to deliver a message of hope and resilience. As they begin their summer break, they want to see less bloodshed on city streets.
Five schools with the Perspectives Charter Schools network organized the peace march, held a day before the last day of the school year. The students said, as they head back to their neighborhoods, they want to spread peace.
The students said they’re not too young to be social activists, and it’s important to reach their peers. They fear violence will continue to escalate this summer with kids out of school and the temperature rising outside.
They carried banners and chanted along the way.
“Violence isn’t going to stop in Chicago unless someone tries to have an act to do something. We can’t just sit around in one spot every day all day in school, and just go home, look on the news and see children being shot,” said junior Timiya Kinsey.
Fellow junior Breanna Leffew said the students were “showing that not everyone is for violence; and that we all need peace in our lives, because there’s too many young kids dying today because of violence because due to gangs.
At the end of their march, the students staged a “peace jam party,” where speakers include a Chicago alderman, a pastor, a rapper, and local business leaders.
School officials hope they’ll be inspired to be good influences this summer.
“Instead of accepting the world that’s engulfed our community, they have committed themselves to changing their neighborhood, their lives, and their expectations of what they can accomplish,” Perspectives board member Cheryle Jackson said in a video on the schools’ website. Teachers and students have been working with former producers of the Oprah Winfrey Show on to create a documentary showing how they plan to fight the violence in Chicago. They said they hope their message will empower youth across Chicago to stand up against violence.
Student organizers said they were inspired to do this after learning about a Chicago Public Schools student who was shot and killed at a basketball game last year.
The march comes a day after Congressman Bobby Rush gathered community leaders and business and media executives at his office in the South Chicago neighborhood to discuss the urgent issue of gun violence.
He called it the “Hope and Healing Summit,” saying he was inspired to start a dialogue after the murder of Dr. Betty Howard, a special education teacher at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep Academy High School. She was killed by a stray bullet while at a real estate office in the South Shore neighborhood.
“The finger-pointing has to stop, and now it’s time to hold hands,” Rush said. “I think by holding hands, we’ll be able to have much more power committed to solving these problems.”