By ALLISON MATYUS
Members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett addressed their 34-day hunger strike at a press conference on Monday evening.
A group of parents and community members, who became known as the “Dyett 12,” ended their hunger strike on Saturday, Sept. 19. The hunger strikers began their strike to speak out against Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) plan to reopen Dyett as a contract school. On Sept. 3, the 18th day of the hungers strike, CPS announced that it would reopen Dyett as an open enrollment school with an arts-focused curriculum and a community innovation lab but the coalition, which includes member of the Kenwood Oakland community Organization, were insistent on the school becoming Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School and continued the hunger strike.
At a press conference at Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, 930 E. 50th St., the former strikers and their supporters were adamant on their persistence to push for a green technology school at Dyett High School, 555 E. 51st St.
“We must build up our bodies mentally and physically to continue to fight,” said Irene Robinson.
Rev. Jessie Jackson and Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) were also present to show their continued support for the fight for Dyett.
“I’m not here as a politician,” Raoul said. “I’m here as a community stakeholder. Dyett is right down the street from my home. This fight for a community school is directly related in the fight for the community.”
Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance and one of the former hunger strikers, said the next step in the fight for Dyett is to fight for an elected representative school board.
Moving forward with its plan for an arts and technology –based school at Dyett, CPS announced, today, the chosen Technology Advisory Committees (TAC) to support the development of Dyett.
“The experts who have volunteered to provide strategic guidance for the groundbreaking technology center at Dyett will play a critical role in developing a new pillar of the Bronzeville community,” said CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson in a written statement. “It will be the first of its kind in the district, and we are excited to work with such accomplished individuals to assist us in developing this groundbreaking community resource.”
The Innovation TAC includes names such as Gerald Doyle, the vice provost at the Illinois Institute of Technology; Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871; and Jerrold Martin, vice chancellor and CIO for City Colleges of Chicago.
The Arts TAC includes Theaster Gates, director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago; Kemati Porter, interim executive director of the Creative Arts Foundation; and Perri Irmer, president and CEO of the DuSable Museum of African American History.
Brown said that while he has no issues with the names included on the list, he hopes the coalition will be on the list as well.
“We want to be part of the infrastructure and planning and we will continue to push on that,” Brown said.