Community Rights Campaign
Cleveland High Taking Action 1000 Hoodie March
Cleveland High School's Taking Action organized a "1000 Hoodie March" with the support of the Village Nation and Black Student Union. Hundreds of students gathered outside the gym during lunch in solidarity with the nation's call for justice in the murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. Taking Action spent the weeks prior, gathering after school and during their Spring Break, organizing for the event and mobilizing students, teachers, and administration.
Students working to build awareness of the criminalization of youth
Students made banners and picket signs, created new chants, developed workshops for classes, and made flyers to mobilize the Cleveland High School community. Students rallied in honor of Trayvon, but to also build consciousness around the similar forms of criminalization they experience as students of color on their own campus. This includes interactions by school police, suspensions, tickets, and punitive discipline policies that create a school environment of fear and punishment.
Putting the death of Trayvon Martin into historical perspective
Taking Action recognizes that the death of Trayvon Martin is a continuation of this country's historical violence and hatred against black people, supported by racist policies and laws that perpetuate these attacks. The march reflects Taking Action's commitment to ending the criminalization of black and brown students and the legacy of violence, school push out, and incarceration among communities of color.
Michael Asfaw, a senior at Cleveland High School speaks out:
"As a black student at Cleveland, I found the Trayvon Martin march to be very inspiring because I was gathering with other high school students, like myself, to create awareness and fight against the everyday injustices we see in this country. I was proud to be a part of the team that coordinated the march as I saw all our hard work being put into action. It was empowering to see the number of students and teachers marching with us and to hear fellow Taking Action member, Ezinne Nwankwo, give a speech that reflects the reality of black and brown students at Cleveland High School. The march for Trayvon Martin is important because it is in response to the larger issues that students of color face on a daily basis. It was a way to shake up Cleveland and force everyone to think about Trayvon Martin as a larger issue to what is happening in our communities."
Rushanda DuQuesnay, 20 year old Cleveland alumni spoke of the legacy she hopes to build:
"When I was a student in Taking Action at Cleveland, the atmosphere felt progressive and I had the opportunity to be engaged in forward thinking. Being at the march, I found that this presence of resistance still exists in some form. Learning that my former high school had such a disproportionate suspension rate among black students fueled my need to marching in unison with the masses. It doesn't end with the arrest of Zimmerman. We have to question the larger racist structures at hand and the way they are currently affecting our black and brown youth. I wasn't just a person chanting for justice, I was a force, we were a force. In every beat of my drum with the mounting voices behind me, I felt invigorated and more powerful. This march was about demanding justice for Black and Brown people whose attacks, harassment, and murders have been normalized and ignored. I wasn't just marching for Trayvon, but for the betterment of young students of color who could potentially be the next Trayvon."
Taking Action recognizes that it is young people of color who are facing these direct attacks which is why they are transforming the environment of their schools through their work with the Community Rights Campaign. Schools have manifested this culture of punishment and criminalization and Taking Action seeks to change the environment of our schools and communities at large. At Cleveland high school, black students make 24% of those who are suspended, yet they only make up 6% of the school population. We need to protect our youth by creating an environment of positive intervention and alternatives. As Taking Action pushes back on the discriminatory systems that students are trained to accept, they are ultimately transforming and building their communities from the ground up.
You can see more at "Taking Action's 1000 Hoodie March"
About Carla Gonzalez
- Jan 22 2013