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Students Lead Peace March On South Side

CHICAGO (CBS) -- More than 2,500 people, mostly kids, were marching from the South Loop to Bronzeville on Friday, demanding an end to the violence on the streets as students get ready to start their summer break.

Wearing T-shirts proclaiming "I am for peace," hundreds of students from all five Perspectives Charter Schools in Chicago marched from 24th and State streets to 36th Street and Wabash Avenue, a 1.5 mile walk between two of the charter school network's South Side campuses.

Razia Hutchins, a senior, helped launch "I Am For Peace March" in 2013.

"I did it because my peers and I, we were just having conversations on whether we would see each other next school year, and they were like, 'No, I feel like … my life is going to be taken over the summer, due to gun violence.' It was just really sad," she said.

One sixth grader said she was marching because she doesn't feel safe walking on the street, and she wants the world to be peaceful.

Organizers said students from Evanston, Tennessee, and Georgia also were taking part in the march.

It's the third year Perspectives students have organized a peace march ahead of summer break, to send a message they want to see less bloodshed on city streets.

"We are tired of the senseless gun violence, and we're tired of going to our friends' funerals, and we're tired of not graduating with them," Hutchins said.


She and two classmates are featured in a documentary "I Am For Peace," about the student-led peace movement.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was there to kick off the march, and praise the young people for their involvement. After the march, students gathered at Perspectives' IIT/Math and Science Academy in Bronzeville, where they will hold a "peace jam," featuring music, performances, and speeches from students and supporters.

"There's nothing on the streets of Chicago that's more powerful than what's here. There is no gangbanger, there is no gang, and there are no guns that's stronger than the people here today," Emanuel said.

Organizers said similar events were planned for Friday in Haiti, South Africa, and Belgium – as well as in Ferguson, Missouri; Madison, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, and Miami.


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