I first became aware of Ugo Okere when he was a candidate for Alderman in my Ward, the 40th. In the fall of 2018, Ugo ran as a very young (22) Democratic Socialist, whose campaign attempted to shift the political conversation in Chicago away from the “strong mayor” concept and toward a “power of the people” model. As a potential constituent of his, I found his message compelling because of the thoughtful and reasoned way it presented a challenge to our Ward’s and our City’s status quo.
That fall, I asked Ugo to speak to our juniors about how he was able to put together his campaign and to inspire us to reflect on how we can use similar strategies in attempting to change our own status quos. Although that campaign ultimately fell short, Ugo remains involved in city politics and policy, currently serving as Policy Director for Raise the Floor Alliance, an advocacy group supporting low-income workers fight for better working conditions. This fall, his visit touched upon all of these experiences and gave our students an opportunity to engage in a real-world exchange of ideas that left us feeling like our voices were powerful!