03/30/2011 06:58 pm ET Updated May 30, 2011

Hamilton High School Stands Up Against Budget Cuts

This poem was performed on March 18, 2011, when Hamilton High School students staged a walk-out in protest of budget cuts.

Hamilton High School
What does your love look like?
Tell me
Does it look like Genesis
When the world exploded at the seams with fire
And named its passions volcanoes
Hamilton is your love like oceans?
So obsessed that it covers a marble in the universe with 70 percent of its body?
What is the name of your love Hamilton?
Is it Marching Band?
Is it Drama?
Is it Choir?
Do you call it dance or musical?
Do you hold her close like the world's last cello?
Or offer him your best lung through a flute?
Are you in love with your education?
Are you in love with your art?
Tell me Hamilton
When we came back to school this September
And our class sizes were so large not everyone could be seated at a desk
Did we not beg for mercy then?
When our janitors went missing
And our electives were dismissed
When our teachers took more furlough then their households could carry
And when seniors looked to a college counselor
And found her office vacant
Did we not pray then?
Have we not suffered enough in love?
Are we tired enough of begging Sacramento for mercy yet?

When they threatened to severe
The part of your heart that sings the loudest
What did you do?
When they stuck up our directors and teachers with pink slips
And shot bullets through our younger siblings aspirations
What did you do Hamilton?
Tell me of the martyr you discovered in yourself
The revolutionaries we raised out of Facebook pages
I want to know how many letters, emails and phone calls we fired back
We went to war for love didn't we Hamilton?
Tell me what you did
So I can repeat it loud and clear for the Republicans in Sacramento
Who don't believe in us

The ones who are more interested in investing money in state prisons than in education
The ones who said cutting correction funding would lead to local sheriffs
Releasing inmates just for the hell of it
As if the same thing won't happen to high school diplomas
As if high school dropout rates don't project how many prison cells need to be built in the FIRST place
But then again they have never had children that attended public schools
So why on earth would they care about what happens to us?
We care about what happens to us
We care about the generation behind us
Because we know that art sustains a society in the midst of turmoil
We have attended enough History classes to know
What pain birthed the Harlem renaissance, hip-hop, country, blues and rock
We are the most diverse school in the county
We are in furious love Hamilton
Because we know that art and education
Is the only thing that makes Los Angeles's School District Unified

The Fight does not stop here Hamilton
We will keep fighting this weekend
Republicans are gone on their convention
That means they're going to be pressured from every side NOT to put tax-extensions on the ballot
And that means
That we will keep emailing and calling so that when they come back on Monday
They will know that we weren't sleeping all weekend
It is not convenient for us to be here on a Friday
We are not here because it is convenient
We are here because we care
They believe we are a tragedy
We are not a tragedy
We are America's LAST hope for opportunity
Let them know