The importance of community action | Best of Chicago 2020

The importance of community action 

click to enlarge Protesters marched in the Loop against police brutality and the murder of George Floyd on May 31, 2020. - BROOKE HUMMER
  • Protesters marched in the Loop against police brutality and the murder of George Floyd on May 31, 2020.
  • Brooke Hummer

People have been doing the work in Chicago for years. For decades. For entire lifetimes. The city itself was built on activism—it cannot be stated enough that this is nothing new. And in 2020 nothing slowed down. If anything, the year allowed even more people to realize just how angry they were and turn to community stalwarts to finally do something about it. Endless resource sharing on social media gave folks the tools to safely attend protests, call or e-mail representatives, have tough conversations with family members, provide supplies for people in need, and unlearn harmful practices. Organizations like the Chicago Community Bond Fund, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Brave Space Alliance, and the Let Us Breathe Collective got the attention (and the money) they've long deserved. We saw the efforts of people like KJ Whitehead, who for the past nine months has stood at the corner of Winchester and Winnemac Avenues with a different sign every day, inviting others in the neighborhood to join her in peaceful protests of racism, transphobia, Chicago Police, and more. People like Yesenia Chavez, Oscar Sanchez, and Chuck Stark who went on a monthlong hunger strike to protest a metal-shredding facility set to open along the Calumet River at East 116th Street. People like Mohawk Johnson who spent nearly a week in jail for defending protesters from police. And of course countless others who took to the streets, who provided for others in need, who maybe just started paying attention. If this year has taught us anything it's that the "community" in community action is one of the most important recipes for change, and to make big moves we all have to do the work.