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Mission and Vision


The Al Raby School for Community and Environment inspires students to intellectual excellence  and personal responsibility through community and environmental activism. 


The Raby School envisions students who think critically, argue effectively, and use technology appropriately in secondary and post-secondary education while developing a commitment to social and environmental causes.

Who is Al Raby

The late Albert Raby was a civil rights leader, educator, environmentalist, and Co-Chairman of the Chicago Freedom Movement. Al was born in Chicago in 1933 and grew up in the Woodlawn community. An ambitious self-starter, he taught himself to read in the fifth grade and joined the army upon graduation from high school. Four years later, he enrolled at Chicago Teachers College (now Chicago State University) in education.


Al Raby, speaking at a conference.Al's teaching career began at the Hess Upper Grade Center on the West Side where he taught seventh and eighth grade. He soon founded Teachers for Quality Education, a group formed to fight the segregation in the public schools, epitomized by "Willis Wagons," the practice of Superintendent Benjamin Willis (and his Board) of placing mobile classrooms in the playgrounds of overcrowded African American schools, while classrooms in nearby white schools were only partially used.


The Coordinating Council of Community Organizations was born out of these efforts and Raby became its leader. CCCO then invited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Chicago to lead the Chicago Freedom Movement, which Al Raby and Dr. King co-chaired. Later, Raby was elected to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention where he was a leader in drafting its Bill of Rights.


In 1983, Raby became the campaign manager for Harold Washington's historic mayoral campaign. In 1986, he went on to head the Chicago Human Relations Commission, the local watchdog group that fights discrimination.


Although Al Raby became a famous civil rights leader, he never lost his commitment to local communities and to grassroots organizing-or to educational opportunities for all children. He was a citywide leader of the tenant union movement, played a major role in community-oriented voter registration efforts and invented a new method for teaching inner city children to read.


Al Raby with Martin Luther King, Jr.He was also a long-time environmentalist: he could see the impact of environmental factors on the lives of his students. For several years, he served on the Board of Directors of Citizens for a Better Environment.


Al also was a community development innovator. He was on the founding Board of Directors of South Shore Bank, the nation's first community economic development bank, which now has a branch in the Austin neighborhood.


Al Raby had a broad, inclusive and progressive vision for Chicago and its neighborhoods. He is a source of inspiration for our times — and for our youth.

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