FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 18, 2016
Biola Jeje, (347)681-5923 email@example.com
Dominique Hazzard, 301-755-3861 firstname.lastname@example.org
Black Youth Project 100 Uplifts MLK’s Vision for Economic Justice at MLK Parade
Young black organizers seek to “Reclaim MLK” and discuss racism in school discipline in DC
Washington, D.C. – For many, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a time to participate in community service and reflect on the legacy of Dr. King- and the remembrance of this legacy often focuses on King’s advocacy for non-violence and his dreams of a racially integrated nation.
For members of the DC chapter of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), and other black organizers across the country participating in a weekend of action using the hashtag #ReclaimMLK, the holiday is a time to highlight the radical side of Dr. King and his vision for economic justice.
“We are reclaiming the true legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, which is a radical one, and connecting it to issues of economic justice in DC” said BYP100 DC co-chair Jonathan Lykes. “His last days were spent among street sanitation workers demanding dignity and fair pay for their work.”
BYP100 members participated in the annual Peace Walk and parade down Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue on Monday, handing out fliers for The Agenda to Build Black Futures, a set of economic justice policy recommendations for which the organization recently announced a release date of February 1st. The agenda covers issues of workers rights, equal pay, divestment from prisons, economic discrimination against trans people and the formerly incarcerated- and reparations.
“MLK said “You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars,” noted lead BYP100 organizer Je’Kendria Trahan. “Structural reparations for structural racism isn’t an outlandish ask.”
At the end of the parade, the organizers hosted a School to Prison Pipeline Speak-out in front of Leckie Elementary, collecting stories of people’s experience with school discipline in DC. The chapter is currently running a campaign to address the school to prison pipeline in DC public and charter schools.
In 2012-2013 African-American students in D.C. public and charter schools were almost six times more likely to be disciplined as white students. At DCPS middle schools, 1 in 3 students were suspended at least once, and some DCPS middle schools recorded more suspensions than students.
“Instead of policing students in schools with School Resource Officers (SROs) and attempting to pass so-called crime bills, we urge the Administration to build black futures by investing that money in restorative justice programs to make schools safe spaces for all students to learn.” said Preston Mitchum, BYP100 DC Policy co-chair. “We are out here this afternoon imagining together a city without suspensions, where no student is disposable. What would that take? What alternatives would we need to create? We have to figure that out because anything less is funneling Black youth into the school-to-prison pipeline, and is harmful to King’s legacy.”
Earlier this weekend, members of BYP100 partnered with Black Lives Matter DMV, ONE DC, and other local black organizing groups to host a “go-go civil disobedience” party in front of the Reeves Center to draw attention to the city’s role in the displacement of black people and culture from DC.
“Today culminates a weekend of actions across the country by organizers and activists committed to reclaiming, sustaining and uplifting the real legacy of MLK and the liberation of Black people.” said Biola Jeje, another BYP100 member. “We’re here to turn up, learn more about our DC community, and connect with others on how we can achieve black liberation together.”
Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) is an activist member-based organization of Black 18-35 year olds, dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. We do our work through a Black queer feminist lens. We are affiliated with the Black Youth Project.
www.byp100.org – @BYP_100 – facebook.com/BYP100