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Play It Again, Rev.: Jackson's Greatest Hits Resonate With Chicagoans

By Mark Konkol | March 28, 2013 9:07am | Updated on March 28, 2013 4:02pm

CHICAGO — The Rev. Jesse Jackson is an icon.

He’s Mick Jagger. He’s Bob Dylan.

He’s that guy from Lynyrd Skynyrd.

When Jackson got up on stage Wednesday to support the fight against closing Chicago schools the reverend played the hits — and the crowd sang along.

“I. Am. Somebody,” Jackson shouted.

“I am somebody,” the crowd shouted back.

Parents, teachers, school lunch ladies, janitors and, of course, the anarchists, waved signs, banged drums and chanted along with the civil rights icon.

They were gathered at Daley Plaza at the behest of Chicago Teachers’ Union boss Karen Lewis to protest the “evil” and “racist” plan to shutter 54 schools that they blame on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his “hand-picked School Board.”

Jackson didn’t let that get in the way of a classic performance that was either a montage of almost everything he’s stood up against or an a capella tribute of Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues.

Either way, the crowd repeated his every word.

“Stop the violence.”

“Save the children.”


“For all the children.”

“South Side.”

“West Side.”

“North Side.”

“Those are the rules.”


“For the children.”

“Jobs for the parents.”


"For the parents."


"For everybody."

“Stop the violence.”

“Save the children.”

“Save the teens.”

“Stick with us.”

“47 years ago.”

“We keep marching.”

“March on.”

“For jobs.”

“March on.”

“For justice.”

“Red and yellow.”

“Brown, black and white.”

“We’re all precious.”

“In God’s sight.”


“Is somebody.”

“We want.”

“One set of rules.”

“North Side.”

“South Side.”

“West Side.”

“One set of rules.”

“We are the people.”

“Who stand.”

“Who march.”

“Who fight back.”

“We will.”


“Keep hope.”

"Keep hope."


“Keep hope.”




“Keep hope."


“Whose schools?”

Crowd: “Our schools.”

"Whose neighborhoods?"

Crowd: “Our neighborhoods.”

“Keep hope.”


Jackson stepped away from the microphone, the crowd cheered and the protest moved on.

Some lunch ladies and union workers sat in protest outside City Hall until police officers politely asked if they would like to exercise their constitutional right to be arrested to draw attention to their cause.

Later, the crowd — there had to be a few thousand people there — marched to Chicago Public Schools headquarters to chant some more.

If the schools close, many protesters will lose their jobs.

Some are worried that their kids won't be safe when their walk to their new school forces them to cross gang boundaries.

Good teachers worry that their older kids might drop out and special education students won’t get the attention they deserve.

You could see in the protesters’ eyes that they’re upset — and some of them have been a long time — that living in certain parts of town continues to be a constant struggle.

That’s why after six decades of protests, Jackson’s same old song still resonates with so many Chicagoans.