National Walkout Day, Student Movements, and the Young Lords
To all our brothers and sisters in school—if your school is messed up, if the administration and the teachers don't care and don't teach—don't let them force you to drop out. Throw them out. The schools belong to us, not to them. Take all that anger and put it to work for our people. Make revolution inside the schools. If the schools don't function for us, they shouldn't function at all!
—Richie Pérez (Young Lords Party, 1970)
Though speaking about particular realities in East Harlem High Schools, the overarching sentiment of Pérez' statement—take control of your own education—connects to the present mobilization of students across the country. The mobilization I speak of is not only about Parkland and the call for gun control. For years students in Puerto Rico have mobilized against a colonial fiscal control board, students in St. Louis and New York City have mobilized against police brutality, students in Flint and at Standing Rock have mobilized with those struggling for clean water. And decades ago students across the country mobilized against Vietnam and students in the Upper West Side mobilized against Columbia University and students in the South and North mobilized for Civil Rights and students in El Barrio and at City College mobilized for their education. While they certainly aren't the only ones mobilizing—lest we erase the workers and those who haven't had access to formal education—students have always been central to movement building. Today is no different.