South Side march against school closings begins May 18 with speeches, including Michael Brunson, an officer of the CTU

The South Side march against the planned closing of 53 Chicago public schools -- the largest single closing in any city in the history of the United States -- stepped off on the morning of May 18, 2013 from Jess Owens "Community Academy," an elementary school on what most people in Chicago are calling the "Hit List." The march, which coincided with a second march on the city's west side, found more than 100 people moving through the city's African American South Side and was scheduled to end for the day at Mahalia Jackson Elementary School, about five miles away from Owens.

Teachers hold a sign expressing one of the feelings in opposition to Rahm Emanuel's plans to close more than 50 Chicago schools due to a false claim of so-called "underutilization." The marchers were assembling at Jesse Owens elementary school for the Mary 18,m 2013 beginning of the three days of marches against the closings. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.The speakers at the beginning of the march included Chicago Teachers Union recording secretary Michael Brunson, who gave a powerful condemnation of the mayor's plans and helped inspire the crowd. See the Sun-Times video that airs some of his comments.

Brunson, who was re-elected to a second term as a union officer, was part of the union leadership group headed by President Karen Lewis. Before being elected union president in 2010, Brunson had been an elementary teacher near the Owens school for more than ten years.

The marches come on the even of the May 22, 2013 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. At that meeting, the Board is expected to vote to rubber stamp the mayor's wishes, despite the facts that more than 30,000 parents, teachers and others have protested the proposals at hearings across the city since last December. In November 2012, the mayor and Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd Bennett got the Illinois General Assembly to waive a legal requirement that the annual list of closings be posted by January 1, 2013. Despite months of hearings and additional hearings, when the final list moved towards Board action, the mayor's original demands were still the agenda. The three days of marches were scheduled by a group of community, parent, and student organizations and backed by the Chicago Teachers Union and other unions.

"The march today was brilliant--so spirited and determined," CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey posted on Facebook. "We had a great response from the neighborhoods where we marched (cheers, honks, window signs went up, etc.) I know the Trib is saying 100 marched but I stopped and counted noses about 8 blocks in and got 360--and people were coming and going all day long--at each stop new people would join and others would leave. 500 is a conservative number on the West Side."


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