Category Archives: Front Page Item

Don’t miss the free live stream this week only, January 7-14!

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‘63 Boycott makes World Premiere on February 25

Gordon Quinn filmed footage for ‘63 Boycott more than 55 years ago. Yet, the impact of this profound story is still emerging. The film is one of just 10 short documentaries to advance as a contender for Best Documentary Short at the 2019 Academy Awards. This achievement comes as the film team, which includes producers Rachel Dickson and Tracye A. Matthews, prepares for a national debut.

PBS WORLD Channel will broadcast ‘63 Boycott nationwide on February 25. The film is also available now for free streaming for one week only through Kartemquin Films, Public Media’s WORLD Channel and the PBS App.

“I’m very happy to be working with PBS again. I believe it’s essential that a film about the struggle for equality and equity in education be accessible to all,” Quinn said.

Blending unseen 16mm footage of the march shot by Quinn when he was just 21 years old with the participants’ reflections today,’63 Boycott connects the forgotten story of one of the largest northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education, school closings and youth activism.

This award-winning film revisits October 22, 1963, when more than 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. Many marched through the city calling for the resignation of School Superintendent Benjamin Willis, who placed trailers, dubbed ‘Willis Wagons,’ on playgrounds and parking lots of overcrowded black schools rather than let them enroll in nearby white schools.

‘63 Boycott is directed by Gordon Quinn and produced by Rachel Dickson and Tracye A. Matthews. Edited by Liz Kaar. Executive produced by Betsy Steinberg, Justine Nagan and Gordon Quinn.


  • Best Short Documentary Award at the 2018 Nashville Film Festival
  • Audience Award at the 2018 Pan African Film Festival
  • Official Selection of the Museum of Modern Art’s Doc Fortnight of 2018
  • DOC NYC’s Shorts Short List of 2018
  • Best Short Documentary at the Berlin Black International Cinema Exhibition, the Roxbury International Film Festival, the Adrian International Film Festival and the Montreal International Black Film Festival
  • Jury Citation Award at the Black Maria Film Festival

Kartemquin Films is a collaborative community empowering filmmakers who create documentaries that foster a more engaged and just society. For 52 years, Kartemquin has embraced a vision of democracy through documentary, producing over 65 documentaries including the Academy Award-nominated Hoop Dreams, the 2018 Academy Award-nominees Abacus: Small Enough to Jail and Edith+Eddie, 2018’s best reviewed documentary Minding the Gap and 2018’s best reviewed original TV series, America to Me. The organization’s films have also garnered other major prizes, including six Emmys, two Peabody Awards and multiple Independent Spirit, IDA, PGA, DGA and festival awards, and duPont-Columbia and Robert F. Kennedy journalism awards.


’63 Boycott Shortlisted for an Oscar

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this week that 10 films in the Documentary Short Subject category will advance in the voting process for the 91st Academy Awards®. See the complete list here.

104 films qualified to advance in the voting process, and the 5 nominees will be announced on January 22nd.

’63 Boycott was named to the 2018 DOC NYC Shorts Short List as one of the top 12 award contenders for the documentary short category. The film has previously won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Documentary at the Nashville Film Festival, the Audience Award for Best Documentary Short at the 2018 Pan African Film Festival, the Best Short Documentary Award at the 33rd Berlin Black International Cinema Exhibition, the Best Short Documentary Award at the Adrian International Film Festival, the Best Short Documentary Award at the Roxbury International Film Festival, and received the Jury’s Citation at the Black Maria Film Festival.

Black History Month Screenings of ’63 Boycott in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles

The final film premiered in October at the Chicago International Film Festival and Rainbow/Push Headquarters. While we raise money for the interactive web platform and curriculum, we have an exciting series of screenings lined up this month! Check it out and tell your friends.


Monday, March 12 @ 5:30pm
Chicago Teachers Union Center
1901 W. Carroll, Chicago, IL
Free and open to the public  RSVP
Saturday, February 17 @ 2:00pm
Seward Park Field House
375 West Elm Street, Chicago, IL
Thursday, February 22 @ 5:45pm
National Teachers Academy
55 W Cermak Rd, Chicago, IL
Saturday, February 24 @ 10:00am
Organized by Kenwood Oakland Community Organization
Dyett High School
555 E 51st St


Tuesday, Feb 13 @ 06:25pm
Thursday, Feb 15 @ 03:30pm
Pan African Film Festival
Cinemark Baldwin Hills
4020 Marlton Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Purchase tickets here.


Monday, February 19 @ 1pm
Museum of Modern Art Doc Fortnight
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY
Purchase tickets here.


Monday, March 12 @ 5:30pm
Chicago Teachers Union Center
1901 W. Carroll, Chicago, IL
Free and open to the public  RSVP
Friday, March 16 @ 11:00am and 7:00pm
Gorton Community Center
400 E. Illinois Road, Lake Forest, IL
Purchase tickets
Saturday, March 24 @ 12:00pm
Earl Cameron Theatre City Hall Arts Centre
Purchase tickets

’63 Boycott World Premiere

On October 22nd, 2017, the 54th anniversary of the great Chicago School boycott, we premiered ’63 Boycott to a sold-out audience at Chicago International Film Festival. Six of the film subjects came up after the screening to share their thoughts on the film and reflections on the importance of seeing this story told.

The day before, more than 200 people had packed into the pews of Rainbow Push Headquarters to see the film the day before its official festival premiere. The remaining four living subjects of the film who had need been present on Sunday, were at the Saturday screening. They came onto stage after the screening, along with Jitu Brown of the Journey for Justice national coalition, and moderator Jay Travis, to speak about the segregation and inequality that led to the boycott, and the similar issues plaguing public education today. A video of the panel is available here.

While the premiere weekend is over, distribution of the film is just in the beginning stages. We are currently fundraising to develop a curriculum, and robust outreach strategy. If you would like to be involved, or would like to screen the film, please contact us.

’63 Boycott Anniversary Weekend Premiere- October 21 and October 22 Screenings

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Saturday, October 21 1pm
930 East 50th Street
Free and open to the public.
RSVP here.

Sunday, October 22 3:30pm
AMC River East
322 E Illinois St.
Chicago International Film Festival
Buy tickets here.

Many of you have been waiting for this moment for years! We finally finished the film. The documentary is still a 30-minute short about the 1963 boycott of Chicago Public Schools, but based on feedback from many of you over the last few years, we incorporated more of the context of educational racism and segregation in Chicago into the story, both in the 60s and today. We also used a lot of film and photos and flyers found at local archives or submitted by people like you on our website. We are excited to share the film and talk to all of you about ways to share it with even more people across the city and country! So come celebrate the premiere with us and stay in touch with the project as we make plans for sustained outreach and distribution.

Dianne Dickson and father, Joseph S. Dickson in Kenwood

Dianne Dickson’s father, Joseph S. Dickson, moved his family to Chicago the summer of 1963. Their family moved so that Mr. Dickson could become the rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kenwood. As the family settled in, they immediately became aware of the racial segregation and inequality plaguing the city. Experts at the time estimated that the condition of the black population in the 1960’s in Chicago was analogous to that of whites in the Great Depression twenty five  years earlier (EducationPublicTrust_3099).

Arriving to Chicago at the height of resistance to Mayor Daley and Superintendent Benjamin Willis, Joseph S. Dickson could not stand idle. In “Why We March: Race And Schools in Another Perspective,” an essay on the corruption of Chicago’s education system and the resistance coming to fruition, Mr. Dickson wrote: “it needs to be said that despite the legal victories in the courts, and despite the moral victories in the lunch counters and on the buses… the actual benefits have touched relatively few black folks, particularly in northern metropolises.”

Dianne sent us a stack of archival materials from her father’s collection, some of which have been used in our film. Information included in the boxes spanned from Civil Rights violations, newspaper snippets, and letters to the Chicago Board of Education from the Kenwood-Shoesmith PTA (Parent Teachers Association), which Joseph Dickson was the President of at the time.   

A few highlights from their documents:   

In 1962, the United States Civil Rights Commission said that Chicago Public Schools were “an example of rank de facto segregation in the northern metropolises.”

According to the US Civil Rights Commission, roughly 90% of black elementary students and 63% of black high school students attended over 90% black schools.  All while Willis was allocating significant funding (Chicago was one of the metropolitan cities that spent the most on education) on projects that weren’t helping black students.

In “Why We March: Race And Schools in Another Perspective”, Dickson measures the dropout rate at 35% in black neighborhoods. Which means 1 in 3 black students were not receiving high school diplomas in 1965.

As a result, Chicago organizers, parents, and students demanded Mayor Daley to follow suite and the resignation of superintendent Benjamin Willis.

Project Update!

Exciting news! We have finished a fine cut of ‘63 Boycott, and are incredibly close to completing the polishing touches and sharing this film with the world. The documentary is still a 30-minute film about the 1963 boycott of Chicago Public Schools, but based on feedback from many of you over the last few years, we incorporated more of the context of educational racism and segregation in Chicago into the story, both in the 60s and today. We also used a lot of film and photos and flyers found at local archives or submitted by people like you on our website. We are working with advisors to make sure the film is historically accurate, graphic designers, and
music composers, etc…

Now we are looking to take the next step, and gathering community educators, historians, and activists to plan how to use the film and website to make an impact in Chicago and other cities. We recently hosted a small screening with outreach partners who stressed to us the importance of the film and website reaching students who are impacted by current education policies, not only in Chicago but across the country.

We are still looking for funding and partners to support outreach, so if you want to help, please reach out to us. You can also donate to the project here.

Director, Gordon Quinn receiving feedback from members of Communities United

Director, Gordon Quinn and Producers, Rachel Dickson and Tracye Matthews presenting ’63 boycott to outreach partners


A Call for Buttons And Posters!

Buttons and signs are a simple and powerful protest tool. We’ve found a lot of protest buttons and signs over the course of this project, both from the 60s and today.

If you have any that have to do with education, please send us a picture to include in a special montage. You can upload them here or email us at

And of course, don’t forget to share on social media!
@63boycott #schoolequalityprotests

’63 Boycott sneak peek screenings this fall

This Saturday, November 19th, filmmakers Gordon Quinn and Rachel Dickson will lead a workshop at the Teachers for Social Justice Curriculum Fair. We will screen a recently updated work in progress of the film and discuss with educators how the film can best be used in the classroom, and what materials we should develop to accompany the film. We are also looking for feedback on the film itself. Please come by if you are interested in contributing to the discussion. You can register for the curriculum fair here. It will be at Uplift High School at 900 W. Wilson Avenue at 2pm.

You can also still see an amazing interactive, immersive play that features clips from ’63 Boycott. Albany Park Theater Project’s Learning Curve is performed by an all-youth ensemble and highlights issues teens and teachers face in public schools. The classroom segment that deals with the 1963 boycott and showcases our footage is particularly emotional. While the performance is sold out, most people who sign up for the waiting list eventually get tickets. Check it out here.

On November 6th, we screened a previous version of the work in progress to an eager audience at the St. Louis International Film Festival at Washington University. Filmmakers Gordon Quinn and Rachel Dickson were present after the film screening for a Q and A, and Gordon Quinn also received the Maysles Brothers Lifetime Achievement Award at the same event.