Kuumba students with City Council and Mayor

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Wilmington – Today, May 7th at 10:00am students from Kuumba Academy, supported by teacher Salimata Linguer, peacefully marched from their school on 12th and N. French Streets to the Louis L. Redding City County Building to deliver letters they had written to elected officials on challenges facing our community.

Saliamata Linguer, a teacher at Kuumba Academy said, “We have focused on the ‘Better World Day’ component. It is very important that our young people’s voices are heard and matter. Please take heed to their call of action. We are raising global first-class citizens at Kuumba Academy Charter School in Wilmington, DE.”

The letters covered a wide range of issues including:
• Gun Violence
◦ Limitations for purchasing guns
◦ Mental health background check
◦ Criminal background check for gun crimes
◦ Removal of illegal guns so underage children have no access
◦ New playgrounds with sensors that detect weapons
• Drugs
◦ Creation of taskforce that will decrease minors’ access to drugs
• Unequal human rights regarding African Americans
◦ Equal opportunities for jobs, promotions
• Equal access and opportunities to all for the right to vote
• Community poverty/Homelessness
• Creation of community gardens
• Food and clothing drives

Kuumba Academy is part of the EL Education network of schools. Better World Day was created by EL Education for their network of schools to allow students within the network to work together with each other and their communities to contribute ideas that will ultimately change our world, making it a better place for all.

City Council President Trippi Congo, Council Member Bregetta Fields (5th District), and Council Member Zanthia Oliver (3rd District), were joined by Mayor Mike Purzycki to receive the students’ letters. State Representative Nnamdi Chukwuocha was also in attendance.

Council President Congo said, “the actions from these students today reminded us that our city issues do not just impact adults. Our students are impacted by the actions elected officials take and they should be considered a vital stakeholder group. We will review their concerns and solutions and commit to following up with them.”

Council Member Bregetta Fields (5th District) echoed those sentiments saying, “Our students have received the short end of the stick in this pandemic and in many cases, we have failed at gathering their input and suggestions.” She continued, “I am glad to stand with my fellow elected leaders to show our youth that we are serious about listening to them and addressing their concerns as outlined in these letters.”

These letters come at a time when Wilmington city government will soon receive the first installation of an estimated $55 million in federal funding on behalf of the U.S. Congress and the American Rescue Plan Act. City Council President Congo has expressed his intent and desire to get community input on the city’s most pressing needs and how this funding should be prioritized. He stated that the letters received today will be included in those discussions.

Council Member Zanthia Oliver (3rd District) said, “Now, more than ever, we need an all-hands approach to solving the issues plaguing our city. I commend the students for their advocacy and activism and for the choices they make. I am committed to keeping them engaged.”

Today was an opportunity for students who are affected by happenings within the City of Wilmington to be part of the solution and integral members of the community.

“I want to thank all of the elected officials for meeting with our students today,” said Kuumba Academy principal Ayanna Johnson. “This is a priceless moment for our students. We teach our students to advocate for themselves and tell them how important they are in bringing change to their community. They have worked hard to present their concerns as young people and also some things they believe can help solve these problems. Thank you to our elected leaders for speaking to our students today and encouraging them with thoughtful responses.”

Photos Credit: Saquan Stimpson, WITN