Jitu Brown is the education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO). Born and raised in the Rosemoor neighborhood on the far south side of Chicago, Jitu attended Wendell Smith Elementary School and Kenwood Academy High School. Jitu studied at Eastern Arizona College and Northeastern Illinois University, majoring in communications with a minor in Spanish.
Jitu started volunteering with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) in 1991, became a board member in 1993 and for a number of years served as the organization’s board president. He joined the staff as education organizer in 2006. He has organized in the Kenwood Oakland neighborhood for over 17 years bringing community voices to the table on school issues. He helped develop the Mid-South Education Association, a grassroots advocacy group made up of administrators, parents, teachers, young people and local school council (LSC) members to meet the needs of schools in the area. They were the first group to certify parents as LSC facilitators, which has become a model being replicated across the city of Chicago. In addition, they successfully organized to stop several school closings in the area and secured resources for neglected neighborhood schools. The KOCO has served as a resource for organizations nationwide, dealing with school closings and the elimination of community voice from the decision-making process. Currently, he has facilitated a process for community-based school transformation of Dyett High School and five of its’ feeder schools called the Bronzeville Global Achievers Village. This work is grounded in parent, teacher and student collaboration to develop school plans that are based on research and high expectations.
Jitu also teaches African-American history at St. Leonard’s Adult High School, the only accredited high school in that nation that exclusively serves people who have been formerly incarcerated. A believer in working locally and thinking globally, Jitu has taken youth leaders from KOCO to the United Nations, to the Passamaquoddy Native American reservation in Maine and to the UN Conference on Racism in South Africa. He has been published in the national education magazine Rethinking Schools, appeared in Ebony magazine and on several talk shows, including WBEZ’s Community Voices, Democracy Now and CLTV’s Gerard McClendon Live.
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