Students at Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy founded activism group Justice for Peace in response to street violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and suicide occurring along the Figueroa Corridor.
Locke English Teacher and Student Government advisor Sarah Bakker facilitates students discussion on the community, but she says students have taken on the role of advocating for change. “It was the students who brought the energy and all of the ideas on how we can make this place safe,” Bakker said. “Students have so much energy towards activism,” Bakker added after reflecting on her classes’ organized community clean-ups, food drives, and public demonstrations her students have held.
Justice for Peace president, Elizabeth Coello, led the protest chant: “Make Figueroa safe!” For many students, this demonstration on Figueroa hits home as many walk this same street to go to and from school.
“Our children shouldn't be subjected to violence,” Coello said, “We deserve better!”
Justice for Peace embraces shared missions with organizations like Cross Road’s L.A., which promises safety and healing for victims of violence. At the same time, many Justice for Peace members are doubling as Robbie’s Hope ambassadors, who inform others about suicide prevention..
Montserrat Martinez, VP of Justice for Peace, notes that advocacy can be confusing for students who need to learn what might happen in their community. However, the activism group hopes to keep students in the loop of what is happening in their community.
“Unless you organize, no one’s going to do it for you,” Larry Fondation said, United Parents and Students (UPAS) Executive Director, “You’d have to say, we demand a solution, and that’s what the students did with their teacher–we applaud them and are happy to support them and join them in future efforts.”
In the future, Justice for Peace is looking toward council members for district support and hoping to expand to schools across the neighborhood to continue advocating for policy changes.
At Green Dot Public School’s CA we believe personal responsibility is an integral part of every level of the organization. Our students emulate personal responsibility and are empowered to rise above challenges through community engagement.