Wednesday, June 06, 2001

End of Strike Declaration
Little Village Mothers for a New High School
.June 1, 2001

Historically, a hunger strike is a drastic non-conventional method employed to give a voice to and champion the causes of marginalized and disenfranchised peoples. We have taken lessons learned from the legacy of Cesar Chavez to heart and now to practice. On Mother’s Day, May 13th we declared our community in an educational crisis and consequently a hunger strike to bring attention to this blatant disregard to our children’s educational needs. This strike was one that initiated the demand that the high school that was promised three an a half years ago is built as soon as possible here at 31st and Kostner.

Today, we are bringing an end to our hunger strike, but not our struggle. It is time for us to move on to the next phase. We have accomplished some exceptional achievements for the community of Little Village.

Our neighborhood now hears our voices. The hunger strike has inspired the beginning of an unprecedented community movement. The community is unified around the demand for the construction of the new high school at 31st and Kostner as soon as possible.

Our neighborhood now knows the truth. The hunger strike has created transparency as to how the construction of the new high school was delayed. It has created consciousness for the Little Village community in the form of popular education while solidarity groups continue to be formed across the city and in other parts of the country.

Our neighborhood demands action. Our community is here to hold the mayor accountable for the failings of so-called school reform. By not responding to our needs, the mayor of this city is telling our working class community that we are not worthy of a new high school. Our community is committed to making sure funds are allocated to this project and that justice be served.

We break our hunger strike on its 19th day, but we remain committed to this struggle and will continue to fight until our children begin and continue to graduate from our new high school.

We call on all of our neighbors, supporters, and sympathizer to join us in the next phase of our struggle. Specifically we need people to do the following:

1. Make calls daily to Mayor Daley’s office (312) 744-3300, or e-mail him at, asking him to intervene and to keep the promise he made to the Little Village community during his re-election campaign in 1998.

2. Weekly lunch fast every Monday from 12pm – 1pm in front of Daley’s office. (5th floor City Hall)

3. Updates and marches every Sunday at 4:00 pm beginning Sunday June 10 at Camp Cesar Chavez (31st and Kostner).

4. Actions on other targeted public officials who are responsible for the construction or delay of the new high school at 31st and Kostner.

5. Participation at a community forum on the status of the new high school where we will invite Mayor Daley, the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools and the New President of the School Reform Board.

Thursday, May 31, 2001

In 1998 Mayor Daley announced that 3 New High Schools would be built
by the year 2000. One High School was promised to Little Village!

Two of the High Schools have been built and opened- Walter Payton and Northside Prep. But no work has been done in Little Village.

In1998 the board of education purchased the land at 31st and Kostner for the creation of this 3rd High School.

In 1999 $30 Million in State Funds were granted for the construction of the High School on 31st and Kostner. The funds disappeared - Chicago style.

So on Mother's Day, Sunday May 13th 2001, we had a press conference in front of the empty lot where the high school was to be built. And we announced our hunger strike!

These are what we demanded:

1) a written and public commitment from Paul Vallas, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, and Mayor Daley to begin construction of the High School by the Summer of 2001.

2) community participation at all levels of planning, design and curriculum development and implementation of the High School.

On this day of the HUNGER STRIKE we are asking YOU to help strengthen our community. Campamento Cesar Chavez has grown tremendously in size and support throughout these 2 weeks. Community wide support has been shown by bringing us water and canopies to cover our tents from these rainy cold windy nights.

We invite you to become part of a collective that is not only fighting for some bricks that will make up the building of the high school. We are also inviting you to become part of the process of creating a new sense of community where human dignity, respect, justice, democracy and equality are created.

The building of a community run high school in the CPS system will only help us to educate and make sure our youth gets an education that does not hide our rich Latino History here and in Latin America.

On Friday May 18, 2001 Paul Vallas came to camp Cesar Chavez to meet with us after many tricks and insults from his office. After a heated and intense meeting in the conference tent, we had the
following oral agreement:

1) The high school site will in fact be located at 31st and Kostner Avenue.

2) That an extraordinary process of community participation for the planning and design of the school and its campus begin immediately. That the Strikers prepare and implement this plan for a community process that is inclusive and democratic and includes representation from the feeder schools.

3) That site preparation will begin within two weeks in order to demonstrate that a good faith effort is being made towards the construction of the new high school.

WE DID NOT come to an agreement on the FUNDING. Paul Vallas keeps on insisting that we should ask the state legislature for the money when the State had already allocated $30 million to build the HIgh School in Little Village.

Our community has not only grown in numbers but also in experience and we no longer will accept empty promises. Daley, Vallas and others must put everything in writing. They have not honored their word.

The mothers, youth and fathers on strike are physically tired but our spirits are rejuvenated every time ONE person comes to camp and offers their support by:

- bringing water, juice, and other liquids that do not contain caffeine

- joining in marches across Little Village

- passing flyers and informing people on 26th street

- talking to parents after they drop their kids off school

- supporting the hunger strike fund

- having their community,political, religious, art, social, cultural organization to support the strike by getting people to attend our events every night at the camp. We have had Aztec Dancers, Sones de Mexico, poets, Rockeros and tonight Mariachis feed our spirits.

- Attending public demonstrations lead by STRIKERS

On May 19, 2001
5 strikers and 21 supporters attended Lane Techs where Daley had his
Kids First Conference on Education. We made our presence felt at
this meeting but got kicked out by Daley's security.

On May 20, 2001
We spoke at churches in Little Village and Pilsen, had our Mass at 4:00
and then marched all over Little Village.

On May 21, 2001
Community residents and 8 Strikers delivered a letter to
Daley in his 5th floor office. When we got to the office the
Governor of California was giving a press conference(!)

We met Daley's officers and they made a line before us.
Some parents had brought their children so they were in front.
We asked to speak to Daley to present him with letter asking him to
intervene and build the high school.

Police officers just kept on telling us to back up. People
held the signs up, and began chanting," We are sick and tired of
waiting, we are sick and tired of waiting." The Governor did not
finish his press conference and a skirmish with Daley's police
began. The cameras turned and the community rushed to the ropes that
were for the cameras. Finally, Daley sent a representative to
receive the letter.

While we waited for the letter to be stamped
"received", we had a press conference about the need to stop the lies
and clarify where the funding went and assurances that any funding
from Springfield goes toward building our over due school.

When we began the strike we only imagined what it would be like.

Now days into the strike, things are much more clear. The community is beginning to strengthen our sense of collective good and respect.

We invite anyone who dares to put their words and dreams into action.

HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE - And we will be documenting our march to a new school here!