I Am For Peace

Chicago Students Take Action Against Violence

Still from the trailer for the I Am Peace documentary

Maurice Young, Janeya Cunningham, and Razia Hutchins were in a school class titled A Disciplined Life. There they learned 26 principles that moved them to action in their community. Among the principles are solve conflicts peacefully, take initiative, and demonstrate perseverance. So Young and Hutchins put those principles to work against the violence that was plaguing their community and the whole city of Chicago.

An Idea Becomes a Movement

The movement started with a discussion about a boy who was shot and killed after a basketball game. As they discussed what to do, Razia Hutchins suggested holding a peace march. Hutchins said, If we are going to stop the violence in Chicago, we need everyone to care.

They started the I Am For Peace movement initially with about 100 people showing up. But they continued, and in 2015 over 2,500 students, community and business leaders participated in the march. Over 30 media outlets covered the event. Mayor Rav Emmanuel of Chicago was there in support. The students use the marches to educate about the principles of living a disciplined life, applied specifically to lowering the violence in Chicago.


An I Am for Peace documentary was produced, and the group has used screenings to draw other schools and now even other cities into the movement. Then this summer the nationally televised We Day event featured the Chicago I Am For Peace movement as one of their awardees, with Allstate insurance company providing a $10,000 grant for their work. Young and Hutchins were featured on stage.

Maurice Young says about what he has gained: Perspectives didn’t save me from the streets. Perspectives showed me how to save the streets. Razia Hutchins advises: Don’t be a victim—be a voice. If you see something that’s not going right in your community just stand up. Always speak up and don’t let one person or a group of people try to take you off track.

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