Friday, July 12, 2013

'63 School Boycott revisited

The Hyde Park Union Church was packed last night for the remembrance of the historic 1963 Chicago school boycott. It was the kick-off of this weekend's Free Minds, Free People national conference.

We got a sneak peek at a new Kartemquin film about the boycott (you can watch it here). The highlight of the evening was re-enactment by Civil Rights Opera Project, of the '63 community meeting leading up to the boycott, complete with a SNCC activist up from Mississippi, comedian Dick Gregory, Bill Berry, Daley machine man Bill Dawson, and others. I was hoping for a character portraying  school segregationist villan, Supt. Benjamin Willis, infamous for his notorious Willis Wagons.

Follow-up panelists included Civil Rights Movement veterans Timuel Black and Fannie Rushing.


Today's movement to save our public schools, stop the mass school closings targeted at the city's black community, and against school re-segregation connected with charter expansion and privatization, is part of the legacy of the '63 boycott movement.

The '63 boycott linked the movement in Chicago (most segregated city) with the struggles in Alabama and Mississippi. It shook the very foundations of the Daley machine and institutionalized school segregation.

Missing from last night's program was any mention about what's going on today in Chicago, ie. Rahm Emanuel, school closings, etc...

The boycott strategy was effective then. Could it be again when school opens in the fall? You bet.


  1. To tell you the truth, the sound system and acoustics were so poor, I could hardly understand a word of what was being said. Can't we do better?

  2. the 63 boycott film clip did allude to what is going on today....

  3. Second Anon,
    I don't have any criticism of the film since I haven't really seen it yet and don't expect it to be a commentary on the situation 50 years later -- except by allusion. I was really commenting on the rest of the program,which I though was great. Just expressing my druthers which would have been to mention Mayor Daley in '63 and Mayor Emanuel in '13 as two of the architects of Chicago school segregation and re-segregation. The current regime even more so since Rahm Emanuel has direct control over the schools in a way that Daley never did.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.