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Hundreds of elementary students marched from their schools to Ridge Avenue for Stand Against Racism held from 12:30 until about 1 p.m. on April 29.  Onlookers honked, cheered and flashed a thumbs-up to the students, who held hand-made signs expressing their thoughts on racial inequity.

This is the fifth year for the national Stand Against Racism, organized by the YWCA to “build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities.”

Chants of “no more racism,” “Two, four six, eight.  We don’t want to segregate” and more came from the mouths of babes as they enthusiastically followed their teachers and peers on the mile-long walk from Dodge Avenue.

“Racism is when someone is mean to someone else because of their race,” explained one student.  “Segregation is when black and white people are separated,” said another. First grader Taylor Davis said, “sometimes people ask me why I have white friends. I say that they are my friends and I don’t want to segregate.”

Students talked about racism in preparation for the event. Barb Beitz’s fourth-grade class at Dawes watched a video about racism and talked about what it is and why racism is wrong. She said her class discussed the difference between racism and discrimination. Cristina Pedrero, a first-grade two-way immersion (TWI) teacher at Dawes, said her class talked about how it would feel to be treated differently and talked about walking in someone else’s shoes. “Our kids have a good basic understanding of the issue already and dialogue about this easily,” said Ms. Pedrero.

On the walk back to school, one student told Ms. Beitz he did not think there is much racism in Evanston.  “Kids less than adults,” said Ms. Beitz.