CHICAGO (CBS) — Community activist Ja’Mal Green — one of the most recognizable faces of the Black Lives Matter movement in Chicago — says he is running for mayor, in what is proving to be one of the most crowded races in the city’s history.

Green, 22, has been a frequent critic of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Police Department, often protesting the shootings of young black men by police.

Among other issues, Green said he would push for an elected school board in Chicago, and would move to decriminalize marijuana, and work with the governor to legalize it for recreational use. The state already allows medical use of marijuana.

Green said Chicago needs a modern approach to solve its problems, and young people like himself need to step up and take charge

“It’s up to us. The next generation is here, and we’re ready,” he said Wednesday night. “Our young people are important, and we are going to stand up and make sure our young people get the leadership that they deserve.”

Last year, Green announced he and others were raising money to open a youth center on East 43rd Street in the Bronzeville neighborhood, targeting youth from 12 to 24 years old.

“We’re going to guide them through school and make sure they’re ready to go to college,” he said at the time. “We’re going to teach them the tools they need to be successful, instead of walking around in the streets and hanging with their friends, with nothing to do, in survival mode.”

With at least six other candidates having announced plans to run against Emanuel, the 2019 mayor’s race is one of the most crowded ever in Chicago history. If all eight candidates collect enough signatures to get on the ballot, it would be the largest field of candidates ever to run since the city started using non-partisan municipal elections in 1999.

In addition to Green, former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, former CPS principal Troy LaRaviere, businessman Willie Wilson, and tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin also have announced plans to challenge Emanuel in 2019.