The revolutionary spirit that helped give Fort Greene its name in the annals of U.S. history seemed alive and well Tuesday afternoon.
True to their promise , students from Paul Robeson High School in Crown Heights exited their classrooms at around noon to make the trip to Fort Greene Park to call for an end to the inequality—racial, social and economic—they said was the cause of the imminent demise of their tightly-knit community.
"We want to make sure that things change, not just for us, but for the people coming up," said Norman Flagstaff, 18, a senior at Robeson, which the city Department of Education plans to shutter at the end of the current school year. "Everyone has the right to a quality education."
Joining Robeson students at the park’s Revolutionary War-era were protesters from Brooklyn Friends School and nearby Brooklyn Technical High School.
Far from being representatives of lofty privilege, a group of Tech students at Tuesday’s rally said their school—generally considered to be one of the best specialized secondary institutions in the city, —had a lot more in common with Robeson than most people might think.
"The only thing that separates our school from theirs is the name," said Tech senior Courtney P., 18. "We have a lot of problems too."
Like their counterparts in Crown Heights, some Tech students left their classes at noon today—with some of them missing tests and assignments to make their voices heard.
"If you don’t fight, who else is going to fight for us?" said Tanisha R., 18, also a senior at Tech.
Police stationed nearby said the rally—which drew as many as 50 to 75 students—was peaceful, with no incidents or arrests reported.
When asked about the rallying cries from a new generation of New Yorkers, who joined those assembled Tuesday at Union Square under the umbrella of the Occupy Wall Street movement to call for change, hip-hop pioneer and Bed-Stuy resident Radio Raheem sounded an optimistic note about the future.
"I think they are going to be organized," Raheem said at the rally. "It shows that we’re shifting away from greed and consumption and turning more towards social issues."