2011 has been quite the year for us (well let’s be real the whole freakin’ movement ;). All this has been in the making from the beginning conversations of YWEP and here we are- over ten years later still in control of our own lives, and echoing our realities for everyone to hear.
On September 28th 2011 we had the privilege of witnessing history happen & magic happen. As we gathered that Friday at 3pm on Belmont, with all legalities covered and the proper “authorities” had been alerted we set it off. Young people marched to alert our local community that we are tired of being referred to as the problem, and ready to speak out- not just as the victims of these unjust systems, but also as survivors of circumstance!!!
We stepped off at 3:45PM with our legal advisors (courtesy of Transformative Justice Law Project), lawyers (who came from as far away as New York), and youth from all over this city!! We organized over 70 youth and 15 adult allies to march to change the way Chicago sees and treats its homeless, home-free and street-based youth for doing what they have to do to survive!
Our set up krew and outreach team acted as a mobile rest stops and offered water and a moments rest if needed. Feeling the power of speaking up and speaking out our own lives, we marched nearly 2 miles to have the Boystown and Uptown communities recognize the truth. People all along the March Route jumped in- asking questions, engaging our cause- and the youth had all the answers & spread the word! It was so motivating, moving, and needed.
The day was a humble success and I’d say the most priceless moment was our Speakout. With a few motivating speeches sprinkled in, this was a gift because the stage belonged to the youth that night! We showed our colors, spirits, and realities.
Although this was only the start to a much larger fight –we already had a few more successes – as two more organizations reached out to us to sign on to our Street Youth Bill of Rights….. That night was our proof to our mission – that we are the leaders in our own life.
Undoubtedly, we couldn’t have done this without the support of our amazingly super supportive adult allies and peace-keepers. But young people were in charge of the entire event- from the peace keeping, to the paperwork, to the set up, any way a youth could get involved and take leadership was open to them.
They said we couldn’t be organized!!!!!!!
But I’M HERE TO SAY THAT WE DID IT!!!!!
And we will keep doing it, like how our BEL will help us select our target for our Street Youth Rise Up! Campaign and our research will give us the proof and the power to show that our rights to need to be recognized!!!!
2011 is not yet over and there are still so many opportunities for work to be done to further the change we desire. There are more opportunities to see us and get involved- next stop Los Angeles for the New Leadership Network Initiative- a project of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Project.
Stay tuned for more updates to come!!!