Razia Hutchins grew up in Chicago, around violence. After hearing about a young man being murdered outside a high school basketball game, Hutchins decided it was her turn to make a change.
“My junior year of high school when we were having a conversation in class about a young man who was killed at a basketball game the night before and my friends were like ‘well you know it’s Chicago, what do you expect?’,” Hutchins said. “And I was like I expect us to go to a high school basketball game and still be alive afterwards, you know?”
Hutchins said her next thought was to talk to her principal. Dr. Angela Brooks-Rallins, was her high school principal at the time. Brooks-Rallins recalled their conversation.
“She came downstairs--she was so mad, she’s like I cannot believe that for my friends this is our new norm, this is our new normal,” Brooks-Rallins said. “It is not okay and we have to do something about and I said Ok, what are we going to do about it?”
That conversation led to Hutchins starting her I am For Peace movement. Their first march for peace happened in 2013 with roughly 500 students, but grew to a march of more than 3,000 students, faculty members and adults in 2015.
The march brought together Chicago activists of all ages into one place to advocate for safer streets and neighborhoods. Hutchins says she never expected it to reach so many people. But Brooks-Rallins says she was not surprised at Razia’s success.
“‘What can we do about this Rallins? We have to do something about this!’ That was always her thing,” Brooks-Rallins said. “I just saw leadership in her and I facilitated her to go and grow. She took on a lot of leadership in our building.”
Hutchins decided to attend the University of Missouri after graduating high school. Leaving home and the large family she grew up around, she had to learn how to be a leader on her own.
One of her three older brothers attends Mizzou with her, but the violence in Chicago will have a lasting effect on her family.
“People in Chicago die every day. My cousin, he was just gunned down last Wednesday,” Hutchins said. “You don’t have to be in a gang or anything. My cousin was walking into the house with groceries with his wife and his grandson and some guys were just riding their bicycles and shooting. He ended up getting caught up in a crossfire.”
Hutchins says she would like to continue her I am For Peace movement in Chicago, because the problem is far from solved. Her cousin Marita Hudson Thomas, who lives in Chicago, says for Razia coming to Mizzou presented the opportunity to plant another seed.
“Now she’s at Mizzou and we are very proud of her,” Thomas said. “But this movement is in her heart, it is not something that just goes away because you go away. You take that and carry it wherever you go.”
Hutchins currently works at the Black Culture Center and aspires to run for the Legion of Black Collegians executive board. Although she is away from home and her movement and instead focusing on college, she says she will continue to push for change.