Why I March

Sunday I attended a rally with Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development (BUILD) at Harbor East. The purpose of the action was t0 hold John Paterakis and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake accountable to their promises to the city around recreation centers, city schools, and jobs for teenagers during the summer. I do not have any children nor do I actually live in the city of Baltimore. Technically I’m not even a resident of Maryland, but I participated anyway and this is why.

When I was marchiPhoto by The Rev. Kristofer Lindh-Payneng I saw a little boy walking with his parents. He couldn’t have been older than 7 and when I saw his face, I saw a boy who could change the world if he was given the opportunity so many of us take for granted. I grew up in a upper-middle class family. Everything I ever wanted I had. The public schools I attended were very good and I didn’t have to worry about it being too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. The schools were properly funded with large libraries and lots of elective classes for me to take at my leisure. I was able to play sports year round through the local YMCA or recreational leagues. I believed people around me cared about my education and my future. They wanted to see me succeed. But for most kids in Baltimore they don’t have that reality. They see underfunded schools with no air condition in the summer and no heat in the winter. They see ceilings tiles falling and painted chipping off the wall. They see the local recreation center closing and the pool only being opened sporadically during the summer. They see hotels and condos being built downtown while uptown vacant lots become the norm.

I’m not going to lie and say I know what it is like or what they are going through because I don’t. But I do know I believe every child in America deserves a good public education. Every child in America deserves to feel comfortable at school and know that the politicians and businessmen want a better future for them and for their city. Every child should have the same opportunity I had in life. What they make of it is up to them but they deserve a shot. So that is why I march. So that little boy in front of me can have the same chances I did. So he can grow up in a Baltimore where the expectation is for him to go to college and not jail, in a Baltimore that says we care about all our children and we are showing this by reinvesting in our schools, a Baltimore where uptown is just as beautiful as dowtown and just as valued, a Baltimore that is united and not divided. John Paterakis said he wants his grandchildren to have a good life.  And I would tell him, so does everyone else in Baltimore, which is why we march.

Jessica

BUILD Website

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