By ALLISON MATYUS
For one month, the Dyett hunger strikers have been fighting for quality education in their community. Even though Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced on Sept. 3 that they would keep Dyett High School open as an arts-based open enrollment neighborhood school, the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett does not see CPS’s decision as a compromise.
“We are still on a hunger strike until an agreement is reached that is right for Bronzeville,” Jitu Brown said at a press conference at Dyett, 555 E. 51st St., this evening.
The fight has been straining emotionally and physically for the hunger strikers, and even though the strike is still persisting on, Cathy Dale, Jeanette Taylor-Ramann, Aisha Wade-Bey and Nelson Soza have dropped out of the hunger strike for health reasons.
“Cathy Dale has suffered heart damage and Jeanette now has blood pressure issues and is on blood pressure medicine,” Brown said. “All of us have suffered from extreme weight loss, dizziness, nausea and severe lack of energy.”
Despite all the odds against them, the hunger strikers were optimistic and in high spirits on day 30 of their fight. The Coalition to Revitilize Dyett and the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) are still pursuing a green technology school for Dyett’s 2016-17 school year instead of an arts-focused program.
“The United States is an industrial country,”said hunger striker Anna Jones. “Green technology is the fastest growing industry. According to Forbes, arts is the no. 1 failing industry, and that is what they have given us.”
The hunger strikers have gained momentum over the last month, despite the lack of progress made on the other end. Five people have joined the hunger strike in solidarity with the original activists, including, Asif Wilson, Susan Hurley, Brandon Johnson, Joan Fadayiro and Lucky Marlovolitz, making the new total 13 hunger strikers.
Others have shown their continued support for the hunger strikers and the strive to save Dyett, including black media outlets, Chicago’s Jewish leaders, Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, and an overwhelming amount of people over social media promoting the #FightForDyett hashtag.
Brown said that the national and even international attention is strictly to shed light to the issue at hand, and quickly shut down rumors that the hunger strikers are getting more out of their media attention.
“Ald. Will Burns lied in the Chicago Sun-Times by saying that the only reason we fought so hard for the school was to cash in on the process,” Brown said. “We want to make it very clear that we have not and will not make a dime from this school or the fight for it. This fight is not about being on T.V. or getting a contract, it is about wanting a world class school in our neighborhood.”
One of the strongest physical feelings we as humans feel is hunger, but the Dyett 13 are proving that determination is even stronger.
“I will never be the same after this,” Brown said. “This has changed my life, all our lives.”