By Dylan Deprey
UACB’s 8th Grade class marching for a violence-free summer. (Photo By Dylan Deprey) While stopped at the intersection of 60th and Good Hope Rd. a crescendo of chants rang through the air. Pastel colored signs inked with the mantras being shouted read, “Stop the Violence” and “Black Lives Matter.” At the helm a red, black and green flag swayed in the wind signifying the Black Panthers aid in the march. The line of protestors grew longer student after student. Once at the corner around 100 young adults raised their fists in the air and repeated after Black Panther Black General King Rick, “TOO BLACK…TOO STRONG… TO BE…DENIED.”
The graduating eighth grade class of the Universal Academy for the College Bound (UACB) Webster Renaissance Campus on Milwaukee’s north side put their first amendment right to assembly to the test on Monday June 6.
The two-mile march circled the campus via Green Tree Rd. to 60th St. then to W. Good Hope Rd. and the final leg down N. 55th St. then cutting through Wyrick Park to return to the campus.
When the students were asked if they had ever experienced the violence first-hand or knew of people who had, almost every hand was raised. After one of the most violent summers in the history of Milwaukee the students decided make their voices heard.
Nadya Hughes, a student in the march, acknowledged how she wanted to make a change in her community.
“I feel good about being in the march because we are trying to stop the violence,” Hughes said. “Somebody got shot in front of my house and I am just tired of the violence and tired of people dying,” Hughes said.
Christopher Conley is a teacher at UACB and organized the peace march. He noted that the students were “actively exercising their 1st Amendment right to peaceably assemble.” “Historically, protesting is one of America’s largest and grandest schemes of getting things done,” Conley said.
With summer break right around the corner, Conley also wanted to leave his students with the ideals of peacefully settling disputes in their community. He also said that he wanted to empower students by introducing the students to groups like the Nation of Islam, Black Panthers and the I Will Not Die Young Campaign.
“When they see those people from their own community helping out, who have the same issues as them who fight for the same things they fight for it gives them that much power and motivation for them to say ‘hey I can do this and not have to die young,” Conley said.
Black Panther Black General King Rick followed the students on their march in his black suburban to allow the students to safely cross the streets. He made sure to let the students know that the unity they showed during the march is what he thinks is needed in solving the problems in the community.
“We must have complete unification from the streets to the White House and that is the only way we are going to be able to solve our issues the community is in disarray and its up to us to stop it,” Rick said.