CHICAGO (CBS) — Ahead of what historically has been one of the most violent weekends of the year in Chicago, young people marched in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on Friday, calling for a peaceful Memorial Day weekend.

More than 1,000 students from at least four schools – Leo Catholic High School, Perspectives Charter Schools, Oblesby Elementary School, and St. Sabina Academy – took part in the march and rally.

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At one point, the students staged a sit-in and laid down to highlight the hundreds of lives lost to violence every year in Chicago.

Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined the march, and called for a show of hands of those who knew someone who had been shot. Looking at the many hands raised, shook his head, described the city’s violence as senseless, and said Chicago is not Iraq or Afghanistan.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, the first African American to lead that office, sought to inspire the young people in the crowd to make peaceful living their example for others.

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“Peace starts with the young people in the neighborhoods saying that they deserve to live; that they deserve to be able to have a quality education, and to walk the streets just like anybody else. That comes from you all standing up, and stepping out, and saying ‘Not here, not today,’” she said.

The students made it clear they believe they can, by example, help quell the violence that has plagued the city.

“The only people left to blame are ourselves. We need to support one another. We need to motivate each other. The only thing we really do is bash and hate one another,” said 10th grader Armaria Broyles.

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The demonstration will end with a peace concert at Perspectives Charter School’s main campus at 8131 S. May St.