Southeast L.A. Peace Walk Unifies Families From All Types of Public Schools

Parents and community leaders from Southeast Los Angeles joined together Saturday for a Peace Walk to call for an end to the hostility against immigrant families and to unite all parents with children in all types of public schools: traditional, magnet, pilot and charter. 

The Peace Walk, organized by Parents in Action and supported by Speak UP, was part of a community festival at Riverfront Park in Maywood, attended by local elected officials, including Maywood Councilmember Heber Marquez and LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin. The event was designed to break down barriers of division and bring the community together to unify all children, all parents and all teachers for great public schools. 

“We are already living in a climate of fear and intimidation from the Trump Administration,” said Raquel Toscano, a parent at Los Angeles Unified’s Maywood Center for Enriched Studies (MaCES) magnet and a parent engagement coordinator for Speak UP. “We all want the same thing, a better future for our children. The last thing we need is to face more hostility from within our community over the path we choose to help our children succeed. We’re calling for unity and peace in our schools and in our community.” 

_SP48486_SUSept19.jpg

During the event, there were booths where parents could learn about different schools in the area and other resources, including immigration services and information on the Census 2020. Sponsors and participants in the event included NALEO, YMCA, AHF, Students For Education Reform (SFER), Parent Revolution, Los Angeles School Police, the California Charter Schools Association, artist Diego Aguirre and the Southeast Community Development Corporation, which donated two laptops that were raffled during the event.   

Before and after the mile-long Peace Walk along Slauson Avenue, the MaCES student marching band and dancers from Estrellas de Santa Rosa de Lima and the American Vive Foundation entertained parents, while a clown painted the faces of kids. Fruit and taco vendors fed the crowd alongside a truck informing families about the dangers of drug addiction. 

MaCES teacher and Maywood Councilmember Heber Marquez also gave a moving speech in English and Spanish. “In the midst of uncertain immigration reforms, family separations, job insecurity, environmental problems and so many other things that separate us, we shouldn't be working against each other, we should work together,” he said.

Melvoin also praised the parents for promoting peace in a time of disunity. “We are reminded everyday about the forces of division and hatred in our local community and our country, but it takes true courage to come out here and say we’re for peace and unity and belonging,” he said. ““It’s easy to blame other people for your problems, whether you’re a parent who made a certain choice in your school or an immigrant who came here for a better life. It’s easy to point at you and say you’re the reason things aren’t good. But you are doing the much more difficult and courageous thing, saying let’s come together and solve our problems because we are stronger when we are united than we are when we are divided and divisive and hateful.”

Other public officials who attended the Peace Walk include Maywood councilmembers Ricardo Lara and Carlos Álvarez, as well as Alejandra Zelaya, field representative for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendón.

Most parents who participated in the march walked with their kids. One of them was Mario Cervantes. His chant in Spanish, “Parents united will never be defeated,” was heard along the walk’s route. Cervantes told La Opinion newspaper, one of several media outlets that covered the Peace Walk, that he was chanting out loud to motivate all parents to never give up.