Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The rising of Chicago

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
-- Maya Angelou

The Nation
The Nation's Rick Perlstein documents the rise of Chicago's modern-day freedom movement:  "Chicago Rising! A resurgent protest culture fights back against Rahm Emanuel’s austerity agenda." 

Rick's been around long enough to know that this movement didn't suddenly drop from the skies.
To many national observers, this rebirth of the city’s militant protest culture seemingly came out of nowhere. But it didn’t. It’s the product of years of organizing from sources both expected and surprising. And while the radicalized CTU under the leadership of Karen Lewis has deservedly received much of the credit, the teachers union is just the current tip of the spear in a long and potentially transformative movement.
He gives us portraits of the movement's seedlings, going back to the early '90s and up through last year's Occupy movement. Of course he could have gone back farther, much farther. Let's not forget the struggles and  community-based movements that led to the first wave of Chicago reform and the birth of the Local School Councils, or back even farther to the organizing that led to the election of the city's first black mayor, Harold Washington and beyond. But that would have taken a book or two or three.

This also marks the 50th anniversary of  Chicago's great school boycott of 1963 which will be celebrated at next week's Free Minds, Free People Conference.

Common Sense Coalition
To bring things up to date, you can read about the growing LSC revolt embodied in the Common Sense Coalition against Rahm's school-killing budget cuts, in this morning's Sun-Times.

Local School Councils from more than 30 schools have joined a new coalition that publicly rejected draft budgets from Chicago Public Schools on Tuesday morning, calling them inadequate to pay for the education Chicago’s children deserve.
“This budget fails our students in arts and music, it fails them in academic interventions and it fails them repeatedly,” Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere told about 125 people from a few dozen schools and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th). “Education has to be a major priority because of what our students lose when it isn’t.”


  1. Thanks, Mike! I'll write about the 1963 boycott soon when I write up my interview with Don Rose.

  2. Great Rick. Can't wait to read it and congrats again on the Nation cover story.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.