Asean Johnson, 9, a student at Chicago’s Marcus Garvey Elementary School, electrified a crowd of hundreds speaking at a rally to protest the closing of 54 Chicago Public Schools by a board appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama.
“Rahm thinks we are all toys,” Johnson said during his speech. “He is not caring about our schools; he’s not caring about our safety,” He only cares about his kids. He [does] not care about anyone but himself. He moved a woman in from Detroit who don’t even know anything about the streets of Chicago to close these schools. She should not be closing these schools. They need safety and protection.
“You should be investing in these schools, not closing them. You should be supporting these schools, not closing them,” Asean said as the crowd roared with approval. “We shall not be moved today. We’re going to City Hall; we are informing Rahm Emanuel [that] we are not toys. We are not going down without a fight.
“It is 90 percent of school closings are African American. This is racism right here.”
Asean ended his call-to-action with his right fist in the air and the powerful chant:
“Education is our right, that is why we have to fight.”
“The words were all his,” said teacher, Lori Harris, who added that she helped with grammar.
After the 3rd-grader’s passionate speech, he marched around the area with a megaphone, chanting:
“Rahm, let’s face it, your policies are racist.”
Asean, who became class president last November, said that he wants to be a football player, but “president would be my second choice,” he said. “And I might want to be a scientist or a lawyer. Those are going to be my two backup plans.”
The Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to close 50 schools and angry parents are contemplating leaving the city.
“No question about it,” said Alison Burke, whose 3-year-old son is in the pre-kindergarten program at Trumbull Elementary. “I’ve talked to hundreds of parents who all say if their kids can’t get into neighborhood schools they can’t stay.”
Emanuel is sticking to his guns, claiming that he’s doing what’s best for Chicago:
“I will absorb the political consequence so our children have a better future,” Emanuel said. “If I was to shrink from something the city has discussed for over a decade about what it needed to do … because it was politically too tough, but then watch another generation of children drop out or fail in their reading and math, I don’t want to hold this job.”