Monthly Archives: September 2013

October 25, 1963: Reactions to the Boycott

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A public opinion column in the Chicago Tribune on October 25, 1963, just 3 days after the 1963 CPS Boycott, reveals a grab bag of reactions to the protest – ranging from insight to misconception and hostility, hope to fear.  Interesting to compare this rather embattled piece to the more positive public opinion column in the Chicago Defender on the day of the boycott.

New round of interviews for our film explores impact of Boycott across generations

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Last Wednesday, we filmed two new interviews for our forthcoming documentary, ’63 Boycott.  The first was with a family of education activists – Annette Strickland, a PTA member at Carnegie School in 1963, her daughter Jill Willis, who was involved in the boycott as a student, and Jill’s niece Natasha Dunne, a CPS mom who fights the battle for quality public education with activist group Action Now.  These three generations of women discussed the legacy of the boycott.  Annette remembered the conditions that led to the protest:

The school was overcrowded, and we wanted some of the kids to go to a school that was less crowded, and rather than do that they brought in trailers and put on the property and we named them Willis Wagons because the head of the school district in Chicago was Willis.  We decided to go on strike.


After that interview we headed a little further south to Hyde Park to meet Dr. Fannie Rushing, who at the age of 17 helped organize the boycott with Chicago Area Friends of SNCC, an early act in a lifetime of activism.  She recalls when SNCC made the decision to shift focus from South to North:

The conditions of life in Chicago at the time were so horrendous, and particularly in the schools, that it became increasingly more difficult to only talk about the Southern movement.  It had to be linked with what was going on here in Chicago.

See these interviews in a brand new preview of our film that will be screened on October 22nd at the Dusable Museum, as part of an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the CPS Boycott.  Expect more info soon.

In the meantime, please join us at a screening of another preview of our film at The Chicago International Social Change Film Festival on September 27th.



’63 Boycott sneak preview at Chicago Social Change Film Fest

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On September 27th, the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival will host a sneak preview of scenes from ’63 Boycott, followed by a q&a with director Gordon Quinn.

Chicago International Social Change Film Festival
September 27, 2013 7:15 pm
Showplace ICON Theater, 150 West Roosevelt Road.
Buy tickets at

’63 Boycott chronicles the Chicago Public School Boycott of 1963 when more than 200,000 Chicagoans, mostly students, marched to protest the segregationist policies of CPS Superintendent Benjamin Willis. The project will offer a modern perspective on the impact and legacy of this forgotten history 50 years later as it reconnects the participants to each other and the event itself.

Also showing will be Four Days in Chicago, a new documentary by legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler (Medium Cool, Days of Heaven) about the 2012 protests against the NATO summit in Chicago. Kartemquin helped make that film, providing crew to a coalition known as “the People’s Newsreel”.


Twelve ’63 Boycott participants identified!

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Derrick Brown, a student at Holy Family who grew up on the Lower West Side of Chicago, came to our office today and gave us a treasure trove of ID’s in our footage.  Here’s a list below of the people he was able to identify, all of them filmed in front of the Medill School, near the Pilsen neighborhood.  Click on the names to see a photo of them:

Gwen Anderson

Elaine Hale

Frankie Ray Hale

Bernice Hatchett

Ceola Hatchett

Curtis Morgan

Maurice Morgan

Arnold Lecey

“Loaf of Bread Head” Lecey

Carolyn Stewart

Evelyn Chappelle

Linda Townsend

If you know any of these folks, please contact us so that we can include them in our project.  If you feel that any of these IDs are incorrect, let us know that as well!