Local, national civil rights leaders push for end to Chicago violence

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The Chicago International Youth Peace Movement Conference kicks off Thursday. (WLS)

A new generation of civil rights leaders is converging in the city this weekend as the Chicago International Youth Peace Movement Conference kicks off Thursday. It's an effort to bring ideas from around the globe to help stop the violence in the city.

Jessica Disu, who raps under the moniker FM Supreme, has been touring Chicago Public Schools recently armed with an anti-violence music video commissioned by ABC7 and powerful message.

VIDEO: FM Supreme launches 'Still Believe' PSA promoting peace


"My call to action to young people is not only put the guns down, but pick up hope. Pick up something else. Pick up social justice. Pick up let's organize. Pick up economic justice. Because a lot of the poverty, a lot of the violence is systemic. So how do we get to the root of what's happening?" Disu said.

She is leading a group of social justice activists in an effort to bring peace to her hometown. The Chicago International Youth Peace Movement Conference started at what's known as "The Peace House." It's a home purchased and rehabbed by the non-profit I Grow Chicago with the purpose of giving neighbors a central location to learn about and exercise peace.

"I live up north. We listen to all of the violence that goes on. We sit and eat dinner and we talk about it and it's as if it's occurring somewhere else. This is 10 miles from where I live," said Robbin Carroll, president and founder of I Grow Chicago.

Some participants have come from around the nation, including Phillip Agnew, an organizer of the Florida-based Dream Defenders. His group gained international attention for leading protests after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Agnew grew up in Englewood.

"The world is a big world and we can do a lot and collect a lot and bring it back to your home, and that's what I'm hoping to do. That's what I'm excited about," Agnew said.

Gwendolyn Johnson, 83, has lived in Englewood for more than 40 years. She says she is participating because everyone can play a role in bringing peace back to her community.

"They always say Englewood is such a bad area, but we can save Englewood if we all just pull together," Johnson said.

The conference runs through Saturday. Events include a session on hip hop and racial justice led by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and a ceremonial laying of white roses along the path where 16-year-old Derrion Albert was fatally beaten in Roseland.

Related Topics:
societychicago violenceChicago - Englewood
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