This video is part of a new series Chalkbeat Chicago is introducing called Students on Soapboxes. The intention is to give students a platform to discuss the issues important to them in public education.
Ivery Marquez is a senior at Friedrich Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center who is passionate about seeing more black and brown authors, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Alice Walker, on her reading list.
“What I’ve realized is that there is a lack of diversity, and culture, and discussion when it comes to high school literature,” she said. As for what she’d do about it, that’s simple: “I’d like to change our English curriculum and add more diverse authors.”
The topic inspired Marquez to write this two-minute speech that she delivered in front of a crowd of middle and high school students as part of Mikva Challenge’s Project Soapbox 2018. The annual tradition invites students at schools across the city to craft 2-minute speeches on issues important to them, then deliver them in their classrooms. Each school can choose up to 10 students to send to the finals, which took place recently at Jones College Prep in the South Loop.
Topics ranged from tackling the city’s violence and poverty issues to Islamophobia to encouraging higher graduation rates of students of color. Speeches are required to include a call to action — in her speech, Marquez includes suggestions for literature she’d like to see added to her class syllabus. Watch her speech below.