Here is a video of Asean Johnson, an unfathomably eloquent 9-year-old, giving a speech in protest of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to close 53 public schools in Chicago. It begins with him climbing on top of a chair to reach the podium and ends with me covertly crying at my desk.
"Rahm Emanuel thinks that we are all toys," says Asean. "He thinks that he can just come into our schools and move our kids... He should not be closing these schools that give safety and protection. He should be investing in these schools, not closing them. He should be supporting these schools, not closing them."
Although the projected plan ostensibly aims to address the city's budget shortfall, activists have pointed out that the impact on minority communities is hugely disparate. Although African-American students account for only about 40 percent of the Chicago public school population, 88 percent of the students affected by the closures are African-American. Johnson addresses this in his speech: "It is 90% of school closings [that affect] African-Americans. This is racism right here. This is racism."
Because he is the most inspiring 9-year-old in the world, Asean remains optimistic in his speech. "We shall not be moved today! We are going to City Hall... we are not going down without a fight." Asean for Mayor 2025!
In the two days since the video was posted online, four Chicago public schools have been saved from the closing list, including Asean's own Marcus Garvey Elementary School.