By Lizette Tejeda, Fremont Graduating Senior
South Los Angeles is a community that was once associated with poverty and despair, pain and suffering and even hate and crime. All of the negativity isn’t gone just yet, however the community is slowly but surely getting rid of its bad reputation and creating a new and more positive name for itself.
I attended John C. Fremont High School in South Los Angeles, and I have been part of an organization called Community Coalition, which strives for change in South LA since my sophomore year in high school.
Thanks to this organization I was able to be part of the restructuring process that Fremont went through. I voiced my concerns as not only a student but as a resident of my community.
We had three main goals that we wanted the school administration to adopt: comprehensive mental wellness programs, a health career academy, and a dropout prevention and intervention program. We set high expectations for not only the school but for ourselves.
The students and staff at Community Coalition got organized and we set out to make classroom presentations, handed out surveys to students, made several speeches and gave it our all to make the most out of the opportunity that the restructuring process presented for our community.
We worked hard to turn Fremont around and make it a model for the rest of the high schools in South LA. The restructuring process seems to have been a success, but Fremont has yet to build a health career academy, which means our work is still not done. However, I am proud of the achievements we have made over the past two years and the results that we have had.
Along with over 750 of my peers, Fremont High School’s class of 2012 made our families, the school and us proud for graduating the biggest class in its history. This is just one of the many accomplishments we have made thanks to all the hard work and effort that was put into the restructuring process.
I graduated Fremont with high honors and it felt great to make my single mother proud. I am an only child and my mother’s biggest treasure. She has always told me “tu eres mi orgullo, mi razón de vivir, mi todo! Tu tienes que estudiar muy duro para salir adelante con una carrera y no tener que trabajar tan duro igual que yo.” In English this translates into, “You are my greatest pride, my reason for being, you are my everything. You have to work very hard to get ahead with a career so you don’t have to work as hard as I do.”
These are the words that have filled my earliest memories. I can still hear these exact words being spoken in my subconscious. My mother is my hero and the reason why I never give up on anything. I will be attending UC Santa Cruz this fall in hopes of returning to my community with a degree in hand and ready to work on the next South LA campaign.
I am an activist that wants nothing but peace and love in this world; however, I understand that it will be very difficult to achieve it. I am proud to be a part of a community that has gone through so much, from riots to everyday gang banging, and yet ,still has the ability to unite as one when the occasion calls for it.
I see the world in a different way than someone who lives in the suburbs. I know how cruel violence and poverty can be. The simple fact that I live here makes me so much stronger and makes me appreciate everything so much more.
I am proud to say that I am an activist for my community and the people who live in it. There has always been and will always be injustice everywhere as long as people allow it, but I will always fight for justice because of the people in my community have strived for so much and ahve yet to see the day when their hard work pays off.
Anything and everything that’s worth doing in life has its struggle and activism is one of those things that requires a lot of hard work and perseverance for any change to occur. Activism is more than a passion to me, it is the need to not only create, but to maintain a much-needed social change in a poverty-stricken community like mine.