RALLY and MARCH TO HUNTER:
A HUGE SUCESS
The New York Amsterdam News
Neighborhood rallies to keep Julia Richman
Caption: Rev. Al Sharpton, students and community members rally
outside Hunter College. (Bill Moore photo)
By Daa'iya L. Sanusi
Special to the AmNews
Upper East-siders are not generally known for their street
demonstrations, but the community that has come to embrace the Julia
Richman Educational Complex and its stellar accomplishments descended
on East 67th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues to defend something
exceptional, one of the most highly praised public schools in
the country. And in order to get real attention for their cause, they
consulted with the Reverend Al Sharpton and New York City
Councilmember Robert Jackson, veteran education advocate and parent
The East Side community residents and parents, staff and students
rallied and marched to demand an immediate halt to the land grab
slated for this summer, when some of the community residents and
parents will be away.
One of the community residents explained why she became involved.
"Like many people my first reaction to the Hunter proposal was a
simple one. I don't want my neighborhood to change, so i got
involved. In getting involved I've learned a lot about the people and
the schools in this building. These schools are national models for
remaking urban education. They are path-breaking, award-winning
schools, and they are successful in providing a quality education in a
positive environment. We as a community are proud to have these
successful public schools in our neighborhood, and we desperately need
public schools in this community, which Hunter College would
permanently remove from this neighborhood. Public schools should be
at the core of residential neighborhoods.
The Julia Richman Educational Complex is under imminent threat of
being taken over by Hunter College in order to be demolished and
replaced by a science complex located conveniently for the college.
Chairman of the new Education Committee of New York City Council,
Robert Jackson revealed, "I didn't learn about these plans from the
Department of Education (DOE), but from other individuals. None of
the parents or administrators, to my understanding, was consulted
about the plans before a handshake between the City of New York and
Hunter College established their decision. As parents, community and
administrators, who will be dramatically impacted by this plan, you
have a right to consult with the DOE before any decision is reached."
The work that went into transforming Julia Richman from a symbol of
educational failure to the shining leader of the small school model is
an accomplishment the Reverend Sharpton would like to see in every
struggling public school. He had this to say to the protesters:
"Julia Richman is a symbol of what can happen if young people and
teachers and administrators work together. And now the reward for
what you have accomplished should not be to evict you. We tell young
people to go to school and these young people have done that. We tell
them to get together no matter their race, nationality or economic
status and they have done that. And the way to respond to that is to
exult them, and I am here to tell you that we are with you."
An amazing student from Urban Academy, one of the six highly acclaimed
schools in the Julia Richman Educational Complex (JREC), is Kiri
Davis, who as a part of a school assignment produced a film called "A
Girl Like Me" that uses JREC students to reproduce the legendary
Kenneth and Mamie Clark study, including the famous doll test,
chronicling how race disparity affects children.
Kiri Davis was the only child at the Tribeca Film Festival, last year,
and she won an award at the SilverDocs documentary festival. Ebony
Magazine named Kiri Davis one of the 150 most influential
African-Americans in the country because of the impact of her film and
her work as a young person in film. She also has received a
scholarship from the Gates Millennium Award, which will pay her tuition
at college through the Ph.D.
The young Ms. Davis was asked if she felt that moving her school,
JREC, would negatively impact upon the students. She replied
affirmatively, "Definitely, this is our community, this is our home."
To learn how to support JREC, call 1-917-679-8343 or go to
www.jrec.org and click on "save jrec."
Back to Save JREC main page...