Jesse Jackson Rides the Bus to Fenger

By Andrew Greiner
|  Tuesday, Oct 13, 2009  |  Updated 8:24 AM CDT
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Derrion Albert Laid to Rest

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Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson wants to draw attention to the Fenger bus ride.

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The students at Fenger Academy High School might not feel safer with Rev. Jesse Jackson riding the bus to school with them, but they should feel the bright lights of national attention turned on their commute.

Three weeks after honor student Derrion Albert was brutally beaten to death outside a community center, Jackson joined parents to escort a group of students to and from a South Side high school.

Jackson says the adults rode city buses with the students to and from Fenger Tuesday to ensure them safe passage.

He says they also wanted to highlight how long it takes the students to ride the several miles from Altgeld Gardens public housing to Fenger.

Tensions between students from Altgeld and those from the neighborhood surrounding Fenger are blamed for the Sept. 24 beating death of 16-year-old Albert.

His brutal beating was captured by an amateur camera operator and attracted the world's attention. The Obama administration has called Albert's death a call to action.

Obama sent two cabinet level officials to Chicago last week to announce emergency grants for Fenger.

Speaking at City Hall, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that Fenger and its feeder schools would receive $500,000 in federal emergency funds, but that the videotaped beating death of Derrion Albert reveals larger issues that money alone can't fix.

"We plan to go to other cities and meet and talk with people," Duncan said, adding, in a turn of phrase reminiscent of conservative mores, that this meeting marked "the beginning of a national conversation about values."

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