On Friday a group of East St. Louis high school students journeyed 218 miles to Missouri to protest the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown of Ferguson. But what about the murder of Kendricks Lindsey, an 18-year-old gunned down in their own town on Sunday, or the 22 other people killed in East St. Louis so far this year?
We hope the students will parlay this passion for justice in the Brown case into changes in their own back yard. The unacceptably high violent crime rate that results in the senseless killing and maiming of their relatives, friends and neighbors is the obvious place to start. The violence not only makes the community unsafe, but it has caused residents and businesses to move out and property values to fall.
We hope the students will demand more from the schools and the adults in their community. Most students lag in learning behind other students in other schools in the metro-east and statewide. Too many East St. Louis students drop out; many who graduate are poorly prepared for college or jobs. They need to challenge parents and adults to be active and involved in children’s lives and help them learn.
And we hope they will hold their city leaders accountable for the things they have done and have failed to do for East St. Louis, just as they wanted to hold Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon accountable for what happened in Ferguson.
Helping bring about change in Missouri is great; helping bring about change in their own community would be even better.