A scrappy group of moms and their grade school kids in Chicago have shown the nation what determined activism powered by love can do. Last month, Juell Stewart introduced ColorLines readers to families at Whittier Elementary School in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, a largely Mexican-American, working class community. The families are fighting to defend a desperately needed school building from a planned demolition—and to get Chicago’s school system to instead support the facility as the community resource it is.
The Whittier field house has served many roles, from GED classes for moms to a crafts center; the families dubbed it “La Casita.” When they learned of plans to tear the building down, they demanded the city instead spend the demolition money on turning the field house into a library. Whittier is one of dozens of Chicago schools with no library. As 10-year-old Daniella Mencia told Democracy Now, “When I heard that they were gonna knock it down, but the moms wanted to make it into a library, I knew that this was my fight.” Fierce.
So they fought. They launched a round-the-clock occupation of the field house, growing from about 10 parents to about 40 today. The city cut the gas supply for two days, but was forced to turn it back on when the moms didn’t leave. And finally, this Wednesday, the city relented and vowed to support the library. The moms are staying put, though, until they get a deal for their children in writing. That’s love—and it’s your daily reminder of love’s power to bring justice.
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