This is a guest post from a group of CPS high school student organizers: Cole Tansey, Inez Herrada-Maher, Jalen Harris, Jessica Tansey, Aden Ochstein and Ashor Rairigh. It has been edited for length and clarity. All photos courtesy Student Wall of Hope.
The reality is that students our age face many painful challenges –gun violence, poverty, depression, domestic violence, climate change, fears of deportation. How many of us have to die to stop bullets or worry about parents being deported? How much longer do we have to watch generations before us endanger our planet?
As CPS high school students, we believe strongly that kids need to be aware, involved and speak out to make the world and our futures better. Since 2016, our groups, “BASKETS NOT BULLETS” and “WHO ARE WE To Decide Who Is American” have worked to raise awareness and funds to fight gang and gun violence, and hate and discrimination against immigrants. We’ve organized presentations at schools, sold t-shirts, shared pamphlets. We’ve set up booths at festivals like T.I.P. Fest to connect with other students.
This week, we’re raising our voices through art. “The Chicago Student Wall of Hope Not Hate” is now on display at the City Clerk’s office in City Hall.
We organized this project to provide a creative platform for students to express our own views. We invited high school students from around the city to submit artwork and writing about issues they feel strongly about in a non-divisive way. The result is this exhibit.
Why a wall? It’s no secret that there are some in power wanting a wall to keep those in need “out” and there are some in our cities who feel trapped “in”. We wanted to offer an alternative wall to convey our own rejection of hate, division and suffering.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way”. As students, this is one thing we can do. We feel strongly that projects like this one can and should be repeated in cities throughout the U.S. to give all students optimism and a voice.