Perspectives Charter School students march for peace

Evelyn Holmes Image
Friday, June 3, 2016
Students march for peace in Bronzeville
More than 2,000 students from Perspectives Charter Schools held their third annual peace march on Friday morning.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than 2,000 students from Perspectives Charter Schools held their third annual peace march on Friday morning. The march comes just two weeks after a woman was shot and killed just up the street in Bronzeville.

Last year, they organized one of the largest student peace marches in the city's history. This year, they took to the streets chanting pleas for peace: "Hey hey, ho ho, these guns have got to go."

"We want peace. We don't want the guns anymore. We need the peace," said student and marcher Chelsea Williams.

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The march, officially called the I Am For Peace March, kicked off at 2400 S. State St at 9:30 a.m. and ended at 36th and Wabash.

"We're coming around from different schools to unite to end the violence around the city," said Jaylen Ralington, student and marcher.

Organizers of the anti-violence movement say Friday's march shows that the city's young people are just as tired as everyone else of hearing about shootings. LaDonna Ivory says she's becoming more fearful every day of being a victim of gun violence.

"I want to live through the summer. I'm looking at all the people killed and am afraid it will be me one day," Ivory says.

The march is the brainchild of students who attend the Perspective Charter Schools.

"I'm sure I'm not the only kid in Chicago who wakes up in the morning and fears for their life once they walk out of the house," says Jacari Relf, co-organizer of the march.

The gather has special meaning for many participants. Over the last year the school, which has five campuses on the city's South Side, lost nine current and former students to gun violence.

"It's unthinkable. We have to do something. Today is a symbol of youth empowerment," says Diana Shulla-Cose, co-founder of Perspective Charter Schools.

The student-led march ended at the school's Joslin Campus where there was a Peace Jam featuring Chciago's deputy mayor Andrea Zopp, as well as local business, faith and community leaders.

"When young people stand up and this begins a ripple effect around the city, that's when there's change," said Father Michael Pfleger.

Recent high school graduate Nekavaw Clark wants that change, as she hopes the march will be a turning point for the city.

"We still continue to give our children a voice and let Chicago know we're here, and we want the guns to be put down," Clark says.

Students say their efforts to bring peace to the streets will not with the march. There are plans for two peace camps over the summer, as well as putting together a sequel to the documentary they made two years ago about non-violence.