Campaign for Nonviolent Schools: We Marched 2000 Strong
Resource type: News
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On March 30, the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools led a march of 2000 students, parents, teachers, workers and community members to call for education funding & nonviolent schools.
The crowd began forming at Juniper and Filbert streets around 3:30 pm as set-up was still underway. As school let out, high school students from over 25 schools across the city began making their way downtown. Each new group made the size of the gathering swell until the crowd spilled into Filbert street and it had to be closed to traffic. Dozens of students from Sayre, Bok, Furness, South Philadelphia, Kensington, Paul Robeson, CAPA, West, Bodine, Edison, Sankofa Freedom Academy, and other schools began to converge from all directions.
They were joined by 30 organizations representing parents, workers, community members, and other education stakeholders. Workers from SEIU 32 BJ and Unite Here! Local 634, parents from Parent Power and Action United, community members from One Love Movement and Our City Our Schools. Then a bus made its way toward the gathering crowd, only to drop off dozens of youth from the Baltimore Algebra Project. Friends from the Poverty Initiative and the Urban Youth Collaborative in New York City joined the crowd gathered at the Criminal Justice Center that by then had swelled to 1,000 people.
As co-hosts Azeem and Shania got the crowd chanting “No Education, No Life”, a sea of students from Temple University and Penn State Abington Campus joined the gathering, filtering in behind the hosts.
The Campaign for Nonviolent Schools Citywide Mobilization “Schools Not Prisons” was ready to begin. “We are here to tell you – we are not a flash mob!” asserted Azeem to the people, now 2,000 strong.
The message was clear: opposition to Governor Corbett’s proposed budget. A budget that if passed will inevitably push more young people into the school to prison pipeline, eliminate opportunities for youth to access higher education, and cut badly needed jobs and services from our schools. One solution: the uplifting vision of The Campaign for Nonviolent Schools(CNS). The CNS platform has been crafted over the last year by 400 young people. In this time of budget crisis, the CNS platform is designed to end the school to prison pipeline in Philadelphia with researched-based and cost saving measures.
As the crowd began to march down Broad Street behind the banner of the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools, it seemed the flood of people would never end. Chanting “more classmates, less inmates”, the march spread across both northbound lanes of traffic. A news helicopter circled overhead to capture the enormity of the scene from air. Taxis from the United Taxi Worker Alliance of PA were parked along the route covered with signs. As the marchers passed the drivers filed in behind them honking their horns and filling the marchers with spirit.
As the marchers reconvened at the School District of Philadelphia at 440 N. Broad St., Dr. Ackerman couldn’t help but come outside to commend the sheer force of the gathered crowd. “We need to tell Governor Corbett to stop building prisons and fund education,” she remarked. State Representative Kenyatta Johnson, parents, labor leaders, students, and CNS members spoke passionately to those assembled. “I am still making my way out of the school to prison pipeline. I’m here today to make sure we end it,” remarked Victor Saez, a leader with the Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project, a leadership development and organizing group comprised of formerly incarcerated young people.
“Our students loved it. A lot of them have never been to something like this before and they’re so motivated by it,” remarked Ty Holmberg of the Urban Nutrition Initiative. “This is so incredibly powerful,” said Audra Traynham of the Media Mobilizing Project which activated its network to attend the mobilization. Philadelphia Student Union and all the organizations of the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools have a lot to be proud of. We will take the momentum of the action into the room with us as we prepare to meet with district officials regarding the implementation of the CNS platform. We will also join with the statewide NAACP on April 26 for a mass mobilization in Harrisburg.
The Campaign for Nonviolent Schools, is an advocacy coalition coordinated by the Philadelphia Student Union, an Atlantic grantee.
Join us on April 26 when we take our message to Harrisburg.