Nine-year-old Asean Johnson delivered a speech at Monday’s downtown rally opposing school closings that's been seen tens of thousands of times on YouTube. (Published Thursday, May 23, 2013)
Updated at 6:50 PM CDT on Thursday, May 23, 2013
A third-grader at Marcus Garvey Elementary is now the face of the fight to stop school closings.
Nine-year-old Asean Johnson delivered a speech at Monday’s downtown rally that has already been viewed over 30,000 times on YouTube. Marcus Garvey, originally slated for closing, would have shifted Johnson to Mount Vernon Elementary School. Johnson also testified before the Board of Education last Wednesday and was featured in a Sun-Times editorial, which noted he has “poise and confidence” beyond his years, and had this to say about his school:
He held up a recent Sun-Times editorial, which noted that Garvey already has all the extras — including a well-stocked library and computer lab — that CPS has promised students at Mount Vernon, Garvey’s “welcoming school.”
Garvey also has higher test scores than Mount Vernon, though that school has shown more growth than Garvey recently. And Garvey appeared anything but under-used when we visited in early April.
Here’s a transcript of Johnson’s speech on Monday, although you have to watch the video to appreciate its passion:
My name is Asean Johnson. I’m from Marcus Garvey School, located on 103rd and Morgan. I come to you today to talk about the school closings. Rahm Emanuel thinks that we all are toys. He thinks that he can just come into our schools and move all our kids all over the gang lines and just say, ‘Let’s take this school out; we don’t care about these kids.’ But these kids, they need safety. Rahm Emanuel does not care about our schools. He’s not caring about our safety. He only cares about his kids. He only cares about what he needs. He do not care about nobody else but himself. He let Barbara Byrd-Bennett, a woman from Detroit who don’t know the streets of Chicago, come in and close these schools. You should be investing in these schools, not closing them. You should be supporting these schools, not closing them. We’ve still got people today who are going to City Hall with the board and Rahm Emanuel. We are not toys. We are not going down without a fight. It is 90 percent of school closings in African-American (neighborhoods.) This is racism right here. We are black and we are proud. We are white and we are proud, no matter what the color is. No matter if you’re Asian, Chinese, it doesn’t matter. You should not be closing these schools without walking into them, seeing what is happening in these schools. Education is a right. That is why we have to fight.