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Unity in the Community: Chicago Housing Activists March for Immigrants' Rights

By Ebonee Stevenson

Chicago, IL – Among the 700,000 people who took to the streets here for the May Day immigrants’ rights protest were anti-gentrification activists from the city’s South Side. Members of the Student/Tenant Organizing Project (STOP) carried signs saying, “Black and brown united!”

Here is what some of those marching with STOP had to say:

Angalique Rollins, 14-year-old high school student in Woodlawn

“I thought it was a great example of people working together to make something better in the world. Some people thought it wasn’t really important, but I told them it was something to really fight for because some of these people look just like your family and your friends so why wouldn’t you go support them? I heard a lot of people talking about how, ‘OK they can go and do that but if black people went down there they would get beat up,’ so the people in my neighborhood weren’t that positive but I think it is a great thing to go fight for. Some people looked surprised that there were black people out there but they looked like they were happy that we were there. I think that building coalitions is really great, this city and the world needs different races to come together.”

Wardell Lavender, 65-year-old Woodlawn activist:

“The march was beautiful, everybody marched like soldiers for the struggle for all peoples. We have to do it that way, together as one. The African-Americans and Latinos need to march side by side. This might give people in our community an initiative to unite just like the Latinos, so we can show force in numbers. People sometimes say that, ‘they’re just coming to take our jobs, they should stay in their country,’ but some people begin to understand that people from all over the world are being displaced and need to look for a country that can offer a job, something so they can take care of their family – where there’s opportunity they go. I think that it is important that Latino and African-American communities unite and not have this stereotype that ‘they’re taking our jobs away,’ we need to get over that fear, that stereotype and realize that we are stronger together.”

Lonnie Richardson, 66-year-old tenant council president:

“I was glad to be a part of this. The experience I had seeing the different nationalities of people, that’s one of the greatest experiences I’ve had. It gave a lot of energy being there as a group, we learned how to shout slogans in Spanish, and being there with our kids I learned a lot and was impressed with how much they learned. The immigrants being used as cheap labor takes me back to how this country was built on our backs as black people through slavery. The government’s been on the backs of people of color and it’s about time we demonstrate that we’re all tired of it.”

Ebonee Stevenson, organizer:

“This was one of the most kick-ass events I have participated in in my whole life. It’s hard when you work in one individual organization in one small little community but when you see people from all over come together for a common cause it’s just great to know that you’re not alone in the fight.”

#ChicagoIL #News #AfricanAmerican #ChicanoLatino #HousingStruggles #tenantsRights #STOP #immigrantRights