On April 19th, 2009, I attended the Youth United for Darfur rally in Chicago, Illinois. The rally was held by a coalition of 40 Chicago youth and student groups. At the rally, the coalition issued a stern call to the Obama administration to take swift action to promote peace and justice in Darfur. The coalition also used the rally to celebrate the culmination of its fundraising drive for the Enough Project’s Sister Schools Program and the Sudanese Community Center in Naperville, IL. Over 500 people attended the rally and voiced their support for and solidarity with the people of Darfur. U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky and Illinois State Representative Andre Thapedi spoke at the event. Local bands, Company of Thieves and the Hood Internet, performed at the rally.
As I reflect on the momentous occasion, I cannot help but note the students’ efforts to mobilize and put together a well planned event in such a short period. In the span of three months, the coalition group, initially made up of 10 high schools, quickly mobilized and reached out to high schools, colleges, youth groups, popular musicians, and influential political figures. The coalition also reached out to the Enough Project and other national organizations for help and support. The schools far exceeded any of my expectations by raising over $17,000 for the Sister Schools Program and the Sudanese Community Center. The video below captures the reactions of students after the rally: