Monthly Archives: April 2014

April 2013 Student Boycott

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On April 24, 2013, a little over one year ago, more than 300 Chicago students boycotted school, bussed downtown, and marched on CPS headquarters.  They were protesting the proposed closings of 49 Chicago Public Schools in predominantly minority neighborhoods, as well as the overuse of standardized testing to determine school and student performance.

This boycott caught our attention particularly because some of the student organizers had ripped our 3-minute “demo” off of Youtube and used it as part of a motivational video to call others to take part in the April 2013 boycott.  Our demo – which you can see on our site’s homepage – consists of previously unreleased footage of the CPS Boycott on October 22, 1963, including interviews with students, surreptitious shots of empty schools, and protestors flooding downtown amidst heavy police presence.


The April boycott represented a great opportunity for us to get a modern student’s perspective on the 1963 Boycott, since this video had already served as an educational primer.  The ’63 Boycott team took to the streets with the students, capturing images reminiscent of our footage from 1963 and interviews in which the protestors frequently cited the ’63 Boycott as “an inspiration.”

After marching on CPS headquarters, students joined a “Fight for $15” minimum wage protest and marched to Michigan Avenue.  Following this, they were bussed to Benjamin Banneker Elementary in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s south side.  After several speeches, students joined hands to form a human chain around the building, which was on the list of CPS closures.  In June 2013, Banneker, along with nearly 50 other schools, was closed, in a sweeping move that many felt disproportionately affected black and brown neighborhoods.

Watch ABC7’s coverage here.  The protest was organized by a group calling themselves Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools (CSOSOS).  They reported that over 300 students took part to Democracy Now.

The protest went off without a hitch, and the students were not only well-organized, but also motivated, informed, and a lot of fun.  Below, you can see some clips from our footage from that day.  Some of this protest footage, along with other school protests we documented in 2013, will be included in our half-hour documentary on the 1963 boycott:


Thanks to all who participated! We have included the names of the students who are in this video below. We are missing the names of the last two people interviewed – the guy and girl in the larger group. Post their names in the comments box below if you recognize them!

Brian Stirgus
Paul Robeson High School

Alexssa Moore
Lindblom Math and Science Academy

Isaac Velasquez
Curie High School

Alondra Andrade
Curie High School

Israel Muñoz
Kelley High School

Avontae Pollard
Banneker Elementary

Kiara Stirgus
Banneker Elementary

Educational apartheid in Chicago and the black teachers revolt of the 1960s

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We just discovered this excellent and exhaustive article exploring the revolt of Chicago’s African American teachers in 1960s.  From Daily Kos’s Bob Simpson:

The revolt transformed Chicago public education, improving the curriculum and bringing more democracy into school policymaking. It also hastened the “white flight” of many white parents who believed racial politics in Chicago was a zero sum game, that gains by blacks must inevitably come at their expense. It helped pave the way for the election of the progressive Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor, a man who deeply believed in the power of multi-racial coalitions.

Read the whole article.