The Opening to and Excerpts from a Speech Given by Yohuru Williams at the Save our Schools Rally in Washington, DC.

The opening to and excerpts from my speech yesterday at the‪#‎SaveOurSchools‬ Rally in Washington, DC.
"I stand before you today in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln, where Mariam Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt once made a stand for racial equality, where Jacob Coxey’s rag tag Army once soldiered in search of economic justice and where anti-war protestors once tread on behalf of human rights to speak about an issue that meets at the intersection of all three. For Racial inequality, economic injustice and a basic denial of human rights are at the centerpiece of the battle to save our schools."
"Are schools are also not in jeopardy for want of ingenuity, a lack of ingenuity that is manifest in every area except in education. Recently the brilliant scientists at NASA announced that they successfully placed a satellite in orbit on Jupiter. It took five years for the sophisticated instrument to reach that planet and those who worked on that project were able to predict within a second of its arrival.
Yet today down here on earth where there is no need of rocket fuel to power past the outer reaches of the universe, where there are no gaseous clouds to obscure vision, and where we already know intelligent life exists, we have politicians and so called public servants who cannot see the corrosive impact of corporate education reform on our schools. That can’t address the violence against young men and women of color in our streets. They leave our schools and children to die while the rockets fly.
Educators know this battle well.
We could draw a line to Saturn with the ink of the broken promises of politicians and billionaire’s who claim to act in the interest of our schools.
We could find our way to Mars marred in the rhetoric and disinformation of the apostles of plunder.
We could build a platform to Pluto littered with corporate waste.
And before you tell me Pluto is no longer a planet recognize that our children may not know either because it’s not on the test, and they cut funding to the library so they can’t look it up, and their teacher got rated ineffective because she took time to engage her class in a lesson of true scientific discovery or they are too distracted by the poverty or another police involved shooting without any space or time to discuss the world in the one forum where the peaceful exchange ideas is still sacrosanct: the classroom."
"I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the other protest happening in this space today related to Black Lives Matter.
Benjamin Franklin perhaps said it best when proclaimed, that “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
In a nation, for example, where we have become accustomed to seeing black and brown bodies cut down by police gunfire on the nightly news is it no surprise that the school to prison pipeline continues to lay waste to communities and schools.
In a nation where the presumptive nominee of a major political party has built a campaign pledging to build a wall to arrest immigration, is it any surprise politicians have done little to arrest the hyper segregation that affects Latinos in our schools.
In a nation in whose educational infrastructure we have done very little to invest is it any surprise that some would leave the future of our children to a high stakes test.
We say no. Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
So let me be clear and direct
We reject your test
We reject your neglect
You can rebrand a library a media center but you can’t make a librarian any less a teacher
You can take music and arts out of the school but you cant kill the creative spirit that drives young people to make sense of the hostile world in which they live in poetry and paint.
You can blame teachers unions but you can’t deny that there is strength in unity and that organized labor helped to lay the foundation for this great nation
You can pretend to hear and care for the fallen victims of violence seeing it distinct and separate from the crisis you have created in our schools
But we know that our struggles are connected from Occupy to Opt Out let there be no doubt we prefer peace and we demand justice.
Our children deserve it, our society needs it and democracy demands it.
And so today we march
In support of education
In defense of schools
For the sanctity of human life
And we vow by the light of the sun on the reflecting pool
That we can't stop
We won't stop
Until we Save our Schools."
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