From Chicago to New Orleans. Power concedes nothing without a demand.

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“The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass

What a day yesterday was.

In the morning came the news that five years of struggle by the Trauma Center Coalition had won a victory. The University of Chicago has conceded to their demands for a trauma center serving the un-served residents , mostly African Americans, of the south side of Chicago.

“We are very pleased,” said Jawanza Malone, executive director of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, part of the Trauma Care Coalition, said of the announcement Thursday. “We feel that this is evidence that the university has been listening, after five years. … It’s a testament to the organizing power of young people. Across the city, we are seeing the impact of young people engaging in direct action to create change.”

The Coalition included young activists, like the members of Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY).

In their statement the Coalition said, “We plan to stay resolute in our demands until we can see that this proposed trauma center will operate in a long-term, sustainable capacity.”

Later in the day came news that “an anonymous donor” had given money to keep the librarian position at historic DuSable High School.

The restoration of librarian Sara Sayigh’s position at the building simply would not have happened without the students’ study-in and the resulting public reaction.

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Sara Sayigh posted on her Facebook page, “Should never have been a fight but so glad it was won. Way to go, everyone”

My brother Mike writes about the attempted slow destruction of historic DuSable, school privatization and the meaning of the library battle. It’s on his blog this morning.

Thanks to the young folks at DuSable, Chicago is now back to having three libraries serving all of Chicago’s 28 predominantly African American high schools instead of two.

We have a win. There is still work to do.

Last night I heard that the New Orleans City Council had voted six to one to remove four Confederate statues from their public spaces, including the one of Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle.

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Readers will remember that following the brutal killing of nine African Americans in a Charleston church last summer, I brought to the NEA Representative Assembly in Orlando a New Business Item that called on the nation’s largest teachers union to support efforts to remove the flag and monuments from public schools and public places.

Following a two hour debate, the longest in the history of NEA conventions, I was asked if removing the language referring to the monuments would be considered a friendly amendment.

I said, “It would not be considered friendly.”

The delegates voted to remove the language anyway and proceeded to pass the New Business Item with language referring only to the flag.

BTW, there has been no reported action on the part the NEA in carrying out the NBI 11 that did pass the Representative Assembly.

New Orleans Mayor Landrieu argued before the NOLA City Council in favor the statues’ removal. “The time surely comes when (justice) must and will be heard. Members of the council, that day is today. The Confederacy, you see, was on the wrong side of history and humanity.”

Back in July, voting to remove the language put the NEA on this issue, at least, on the wrong side of history.

But yesterday was a good day.

One thought on “From Chicago to New Orleans. Power concedes nothing without a demand.

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