CHICAGO – Leaders in the African American community here are tired of the senseless violence wreaking havoc in the streets due to gun violence and are calling on President Obama and the federal government to help curb the problem. Since the beginning of this school year 32 Chicago Public School children have lost their lives due to gun violence.

In an effort to call attention to the issue, the Black Star Project and a coalition of local community groups are sponsoring a 16-foot panel truck with huge billboards that illustrate a graphic message about the on-going killings in Latino and Black neighborhoods in Chicago.

The “Educate or Die Tour” plans to travel throughout Chicago streets this week visiting high schools, churches, shopping districts, government buildings, recreational centers and major transportation hubs.

“Ending the war in American cities that is destroying the lives of tens of thousands of American children is as important as ending the war in Iraq,” said Phillip Jackson in a recent statement. Jackson is the founder and executive director of the Black Star Project.

“Presidential attention and federal resources are needed to end this war,” added Jackson. “Are not the lives of our children worth a fraction of what we have given to AIG, Bank of America, General Motors and the war in Iraq?” he asked.

Fifteen-foot billboards will be displayed on each side of the truck. On one side 530 black crosses representing the number of children shot in Chicago in the past 17 months will be displayed. And on the other side 32 upside-down American flags will be displayed representing the number of CPS children murdered in the past nine-and-a-half months.

Organizers of the tour say the upside-down flag is an official, nationally recognized call for help from citizens in “dire distress” according to the U.S. Flag Code – Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8-a.

The truck is a traveling memorial honoring the 32 Chicago public school children who lost their lives this school year, and scores of others murdered due to gun violence over the years.

The tour plans to visit each of the 21 schools in Chicago that has lost a student to gun violence. Organizers plan to collect signatures of students, parents and community members to be sent to President Obama asking him to send help to stop the violence among young people here and across the nation. “Stop the Violence Pledges” from students who plan to help avoid violence will be sent to the President. Organizers say this problem is a matter of national security.

The groups promoting the tour are calling for an “inner-city, trickle-up, stimulus package” to help produce positive outcomes for Black and Latino students and all children who attend urban schools. The tour and call to action was conceived by the Black Star Project’s League of Black Parents, which works to improve students’ educational and social development with positive outcomes. They also plan to focus on educational excellence in order to improve academic performance of American schoolchildren.

A five-point plan to eliminate violence among young people in Chicago and in other big cities across the country will also be delivered to the White House.

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