Photo by Tony Nguyen for Oakland Local. http://www.flickr.com/photos/yung-grasshopper/sets/72157623558089732
The rally for education at Fruitvale BART Thursday morning didn't feature politicians or talking heads. Teachers were present but not the focal point. It was instead the students of East Oakland schools who motivated the crowd and made their case. Their main message? "We are the future, invest in us."
One student spoke of the contrast between spending unlimited amounts on war while cutting education budgets. Another spoke of the effect larger class sizes have on students and teachers.
Bryant Phan, a junior at Life Academy in East Oakland, said cutting education would have long-term effects.
"I'm here at the walk-out because we're taking back what is ours," he said. "They can't cut our education. They can't cut our future. We're here united. We are the future leaders and we need education to do that, so they can't cut our education."
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Gerardo Lizardo, a sophomore at Deer Valley High School said he came all the way from Antioch for the March 4 Day of Action to Defend Education.
"I'm here because I want to support the youth... I want every one of my people, the Latinos and the blacks, to get an education.... I want the violence to stop, that's why we need education. The budget cuts, they need to stop. They need to pay more attention to us and not the war."
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By 11:30 a.m., hundreds of protestors moved onto East 14th Street to march the 40 blocks to downtown Oakland, the site of the main demonstration.
"Whose schools?" the marchers enthusiastically chanted, answering with the refrain, "Our schools!"
Teachers and parents of students from International Community School and Cesar E. Chavez Education Center joined the march as it passed, creating a mass of people several blocks long. Once the Fruitvale marchers reached downtown, supporters from Laney College fed in, creating a river of people down 14th Street to City Hall.