NEW ORLEANS – Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, a grassroots organization dedicated to transforming systems that it says puts children at risk of going to prison, celebrated 16 years on Saturday.
The organization celebrated by holding a mock jazz funeral procession in Treme.
“We are also here to show support for young people who are being pushed into the prison system from the school, which we call the school to prison pipeline,” Gina Womack, an advocate of the organization, said.
People both young and old came out to celebrate, including 13-year-old Jalen Kennedy.
“I want everything to change. I want the school-to-prison-pipeline to be over, and I want all the children to have justice for their behavior. And they shouldn't be put in jail for juvenile mistakes,” Kennedy said.
Even though Kennedy is still in middle school, he spoke at the event.
“I love how people take me seriously even though I am a child, and I’m still making a difference over the country and Louisiana,” Kennedy said.
Last year, Kennedy’s social studies project on the school-to-prison-pipeline went viral. Now his ideas are being heard all over the country.
“It's like incidents where a kid might get in trouble and he goes to the office and get suspended for a certain number of days, but I think that should be over. I think that if you get in trouble you go talk to a counselor or something. Just nothing that goes as far as going to jail,” Kennedy said.
The mock jazz funeral included an empty casket. The organization is holding a 16th anniversary gala at the Treme Recreation Center on Saturday night.