JEANETTE TAYLOR

Kenwood Oakland Community Organization

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BRONZEVILLE

As a lifelong Bronzeville resident and a mother of five, fighting for our neighborhood schools has become my life’s work. I went to Mollison Elementary school as did my children. I have served as a Local School Council member at Mollison for 21 years and am currently its chair. During that time, I have seen disinvestment in neighborhood schools, school closures, and a subsequent rise of violence in my community.  

"In that moment I was willing to die for our young people, I was willing to die for a strong neighborhood high school."

So when the time came to make a decision about participating in a hunger strike to save Dyett High School, which was the only remaining open-enrollment high school serving Bronzeville, I knew my answer was “yes.” In that moment I was willing to die for our young people, I was willing to die for a strong neighborhood high school. The hunger strike lasted for 34 days. For 34 days, a dozen concerned parents and community residents starved our bodies for justice to be served. 

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Ultimately, we won a number of key demands: Chicago Public Schools re-opened Dyett High School in September 2016 as an open-enrollment neighborhood school and committed more than $14 million for renovations. It demonstrated to our community that through building community power we can win. As a parent organizer at the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, I will continue to work towards creating an equitable and just education system in Chicago and Illinois. I feel like I am standing in my purpose.