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Jesse Jackson Joins Hunger Strike Demanding CPS Make a Decision on Dyett

By Sam Cholke | August 18, 2015 4:42pm
 Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. on Tuesday joined a hunger strike by 12 activists calling on CPS to make a decision about the future of Dyett High School
Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. on Tuesday joined a hunger strike by 12 activists calling on CPS to make a decision about the future of Dyett High School
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

GRAND BOULEVARD — Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. has joined 12 activists on a hunger strike calling on Chicago Public Schools to make a decision about Dyett High School.

Jackson said Tuesday that he will also abstain from eating with activists and reiterated his support for reopening Dyett, 555 E. 51st St., as a district-run school, one of three proposals currently under consideration by CPS.

“I’m joining the fast,” said Jackson, adding he would continue “as long as it takes.”

Jackson called for a meeting between the activists and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and members of the Chicago Board of Education.

Activists will be staying overnight at Jackson’s Rainbow/Push headquarters, 930 E. 50th St., and will get daily checkups from a nurse since starting their fast Monday.

Jackson has been a vocal advocate of the option favored by the advocates for at least the last year, when he publicly signed onto the plan by a coalition of groups including the Chicago Teachers Union, Chicago Botanic Garden, University of Illinois at Chicago and others.

Twelve activists supporting the plan over contract school options by Little Black Pearl and former Dyett Principal Charles Campbell went on a hunger strike Monday to protest delays by CPS in resolving the future of the school.

“We want an emergency hearing on Dyett High School and want the board to vote now,” said Jitu Brown, a member of the coalition that proposed the district-run proposal and one of those on the hunger strike.

On Aug. 7, CPS delayed by another month hearings to decide between the three proposals to reopen the school. The proposals will now be considered on Sept. 15 with a vote expected by the Chicago Board of Education shortly after.

"Chicago Public Schools is carrying out a community-driven process to select a new high-quality school for the former Dyett site," said Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for CPS, on Monday when the hunger strike started. "Identifying a high-quality education option for the former Dyett site is a priority for the district, and CPS is reviewing school proposals to determine the best open enrollment, neighborhood education option for the site."

The activists on the hunger strike said they were starting to feel tired, but severe hunger had not set in yet.

“I felt a little lightheaded around 11 a.m., but otherwise I felt fine,” said Nelson Soza.

The group was drinking coconut water and other drinks to try to maintain their energy through the fast and are staying out of the heat inside Rainbow/PUSH.

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