By Sania White
Clean water is a basic necessity for the survival of all humans, so one can only imagine the great adversities facing the people dealing with the water crisis in Flint, Mich. Understanding these hardships, the Chicago Police Department and the young men of the Real Men Talk colloquium at Lindblom Math and Science Academy (LMSA) collaborated with Hugs No Slugs, an anti-violence campaign, on Thursday Jan. 28 to gather cases of water to donate to victims of the water crisis.
Real Men Talk,founded by former Illinois School Counselor of the Year and current LMSA Assistant Principal Karen Fitzpatrick as well as Dean of Students Shohn Williams,is a program at LMSAthat was designed for students grades 7 through 12to help them deal with everyday problems inside and outside of school as well as to encourage and guide them through the process of growing into to positive, well-rounded, and disciplined young men. Not only do these young men have the opportunity to work with mature professionals, but a number of LMSA alumni returned to the school to share their words of wisdom with the future graduates. Being part of this program has helped students receive an estimated total of $250,000 in scholarships since the program began about six to eight years ago. Alumni such as Joshua Chapman, Ishmael Vega, and Jordan Stuart received scholarships and continued onto schools like the University of Missouri-Colombia, University of Missouri-Kansas, and Howard University. Special recognition also goes to Dr. Rudy, current LMSA faculty Charles Clark and Jorge Alaves, and former LMSA faculty Michael Scott.
“The Real Men Talk colloquium brought about a brotherhood between evident leaders in the school, selected by Dean Williams and others involved, in hopes to produce young men to look up to and shape the environment of the school. I was fortunate enough to be selected, and as a result, I was able to learn from the trials and tribulations of experienced men who sought to ease the path of life I walked, by blessing me with their knowledge on women, the streets, black community issues, and everyday interactions. For this opportunity and experience, I am forever thankful and grounded in the belief that my experiences and knowledge, gained from them, will one day help to spark the mind that changes the world,” Juan Easton Jr., LMSA senior.
The young men of Real Men Talk and CPD Officers Ja’Lance Hunt and David Davis first met with Hugs No Slugs representatives Aleta Clark and Kelvin Moore on Wednesday Jan. 27 during the colloquiumin which Clark and Moore were initially there to discuss anti-violence. However, when the Dean Williams brought up Clark and Moore’s efforts to donate water to Flint, every young man in the colloquium agreed to at least bring one case of water Thursday to be loaded and delivered on the following Friday.
“The organization Hugs No Slugs really helped us understand and appreciate the lives of many people that we don’t even know. And in order to show our appreciation, many students donated water to the organization to help those that are in need,” said Ishmael Holland Rashun, LMSA junior and participant in Real Men Talk.
Prior to meeting with Officers Hunt and Davis, Clark and Moore met with a CPD representative to ask if CPD would support Flintand Hugs No Slugs by donating water but was falsely informed that CPD couldn’t donate. Contrary to what Clark and Moore were told, Officers Hunt and Davis donated 130 cases of water on behalf of the CPD and the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), the largest contribution Hugs No Slugs has received so far.
“Us [CPD], being in the position where we can do more, we felt the need and the responsibility to do more. To support a worthy cause because you’re talking about an urban American city not having water which water is a basic human necessity, so we just felt compelled to show our support not only for what their group was trying to accomplish but also just to support what’s going on in Flint, Mich. The fact that we are the police was just a dual representation,” said Hunt.
Not only does this event show the constructive efforts of Hugs No Slugs and LMSA students to help others, it also demonstrates the CPD’s care for others and the desire to build positive relationships between the community and the police in the midst of recent negativity.
Hugs No Slugs, LMSA, and the CPD continue to support the victims of the water crisis in Flint, Mich. and hope to inspire positivity within the community.