By TONIA HILL
A large group of people gathered at First Unitarian Church 5650 S. Woodlawn Ave., Wednesday evening, March 22, for Indivisible Chicago – South Side’s third meeting. Discussion at the meeting centered on participation in action regarding U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, who is slated to be in Chicago for a fundraiser.
It is unknown at this point whether or not Ryan will be in town for the fundraiser on Thursday, March 23, or Friday, March 24, according to organizers from the group due to a vote in Congress.
The House is expected to vote on the American Health Care Act, on Thursday, it is a bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, (ACA), which was launched and signed into law in 2010 by former President Barack Obama’s administration.
Indivisible Chicago – South Side will join other Indivisible groups from across the city at 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, downtown at Federal Plaza, 230 S. Dearborn St.
Indivisible Chicago – South Side has clear goals, actions and directives geared toward resisting President Donald Trump and his agenda. The group also is moving towards supporting issues in the statehouse in Springfield and locally regarding City Council.
For example, organizers are in support of House Bill 780 and urged attendees to reach out to the representatives in the area to get their support of the measure.
The bill would require candidates running for President and Vice President to release their tax returns for the last five years before the general election. A vote on the bill could happen as early as April.
The newly formed organization is in the early stages of planning and solidifying its vision. Organizers invited Jacky Grimshaw, vice president of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, to the meeting to get her perspective on cultivating their grassroots organization to become a disciplined group of capable protestors and campaigners.
Grimshaw provided keys to help assist the group in centralizing its focus on issues noting that leading the charge for change often comes with sacrifice.
“Not only do you have to be willing to be disruptive but you have to be willing to have some pain, to have some sacrifice,” Grimshaw said. “If you’re going to be involved in a movement of some sort you have to give up and sacrifice some of your time.”
Grimshaw also stressed the need for strategic planning with an ultimate goal in mind.
“You can only go to so many rallies so many marches and get riled up before you say okay, what’s on TV tonight,” Grimshaw said. “That’s not what we want. That’s not going to make any kind of political change so keeping your eye on the ball… Having short-term strategies for how to get to where you want to go is extremely important.”
Members of the audience asked Grimshaw a variety of questions about protesting and what methods are best to reach members of Congress, how Indivisible Chicago –South Side should approach partnering with local organizations, and what actions they can take on locally regarding voter registration and civic 101 courses.
An idea that surfaced a few times was the need for an elected school board. Cliff Kelley, former City Council member for the 20th ward and a popular talk show host on WVON AM 1690, referenced the idea and asked whether or not it should an issue for the group to consider advocating for moving forward.
Kelley said while he was in City Council that the council had more of a say regarding members selected to the school board.
“The House [committee] overwhelmingly voted for an elected school board,” Kelley said. “We are the only district in the entire state that does not have an elected board. The mayor just selects them and that’s it.”
The elected school board bill is in the works in the Illinois statehouse it would change the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) board from a mayor-appointed school board to an elected school board.
The bill will also allow the Illinois general assembly to divide the City of Chicago into 20 electoral districts for seats on the Chicago Board of Education. The bill was voted out favorably 18-1 from a House committee on Wednesday, March 15.
To find out more information about Indivisible Chicago – South Side visit indivisiblechicago.com.