Updates from the production of our forthcoming documentary, '63 Boycott. We'll be posting production stills, press clippings, and project milestones.

‘63 Boycott makes DOC NYC Short List

Incredible news! ‘63 Boycott screened at more than 48 festivals, conferences and schools so far this year —  including the Festival International du Film Pan-Africain de Cannes in France, Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Montreal International Black Film Festival. Most recently, it had of the honor of being on Doc NYC’s shortlist of the twelve best documentary shorts of the year! The film has also qualified for a nomination for an Academy Award. This high achievement comes just as the 55th anniversary of the Boycott approaches. What a great way to celebrate this significant movement and history.

Our team is busy working with Mikva Challenge to develop a curriculum to accompany the film, preparing to release the DVD of the film, and planning for a PBS broadcast in February of 2019. Contact us at if you would like to plan a screening.


2018 DOC NYC Short List: Short Films

Pan African Film Festival
Audience Award

Nashville International Film Festival
Jury Award for Best Short Documentary

Black International Cinema Berlin
Best Film

Roxbury International Film Festival
Best Documentary Short Film

Adrian International Film Festival
Best Documentary Short

Montreal International Black Film Festival
Honorable Mention Best Mid-Length Film


Thursday, October 12th
Gary International Black Film Festival
Gary, IN

Monday, October 22, 2018
Metropolitan Planning Council
Chicago, IL

Saturday, October 27th
Media Freedom Summit
San Francisco, CA

November 1-11
St. Louis International Film Festival
St. Louis, MO

Thursday, November 9th
New York City, NY
2018 DOC NYC Short List: Short Films

Tuesday, November 27th – Friday, November 30th
National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME)
2018 Conference
Memphis, TN

January 4, 2019
American Historical Association
Washington, DC

Check out photos from the ’63 Boycott screening in Florence!

Photos by Ulysses

CPS Teachers brainstorm ideas at ’63 Boycott workshop

’63 Boycott Workshop, a film about Student Agency and Community History
Face and Embrace: Waking up to Racial Equity in Education 2018

CPS teachers engaged in a meaningful conversation surrounding race and education at the Face & Embrace – Waking up to Racial Equity in Education  conference in August. They also brainstormed ways they can use ‘63 Boycott in an impactful way with their students this school year. The Boycott team and Mikva Challenge are creating a curriculum for teachers to use while screening the film. More info on this soon!

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

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


’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.

Making an Archival Film in the Digital Age

Wednesday, August 10th 5:30PM
Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph St

v13_frontFilmmakers Gordon Quinn and Rachel Dickson will talk about their in-progress documentary ’63 Boycott, Kartemquin’s oldest film still uncompleted. The project, which they are co-producing with Tracye Matthews, began as a website to identify and collect stories from participants appearing in the historic footage that director Quinn and other Kartemquin founders filmed 53 years ago. Using facebook tagging technology, they are finding and interviewing the young boycotters 50 years later. Through a website and blog they are gathering additional personal accounts and crowdsourcing archival materials. This project upends traditional filmmaking where the film comes first, then the website. While not without hurdles, this method has allowed the project to go viral when they found footage that appeared to be Bernie Sanders being arrested at a ’63 education demonstration, letting the world wide web confirm it was him and spread it to the media and the Sanders presidential campaign. During the workshop they will share the website, as well as then and now clips of some of the people they’ve found.

Ahead of our 50th anniversary celebration on June 24th at the Harris Theater Rooftop, we open our archives to the Chicago public with the exhibition “Kartemquin Films: 50 Years of Democracy Through Documentary,” running May 21st-August 20th at

See the full schedule at

63 Boycott Happenings November 2015

nea-lockup-AThe quest to find boycott participants ramps up as we near our deadline for locating people to interview. We plan to finish interviews by March of 2016, so now’s the time to help us find people in the photos if you’ve been putting it off!  Earlier this year, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded us an Art Works grant so we can continue to work on the project and finish by 2016.

We are still looking for more students we can identify in our footage from 1963, so please look through the website, send it around to friends and family who may be able to identify people, and keep in mind these schools listed here. School by School Boycott ParticipationThis is a list of participating schools and percentages. If you know people who went to any of these schools or may be in contact with people who were at these schools in the 60s, let us know. (Click here to download a pdf: School by School Boycott Participation) Note: this is not a complete list. We know of other schools with students who participated, such as Medill Elementary. If you know someone who went to Medill, check this out.

We have made some important outreach additions to our website. We made a new postcard and added a page to our website to encourage youth to share the pictures with elders. This includes some pointers and tips for asking questions around the boycott, downloadable links to slideshows of the pictures, a downloadable link to the new postcard, and a link to a document written by Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce about the historical context in education at the time of the boycott. If you would like a stack of postcards sent to you, so you can pass it out to your friends, family, community group, school, or congregation, please contact us and let us know how many you would like. v03_front


We also were recently interviewed for a radio podcast special about boycotts. Moor Talk Radio looked at the history of boycotts, successful boycotts across the world, and the ’63 Boycott project. Skip ahead to minute 49:00 of the program to hear about the history of boycotts, and minute 56:00 to hear about the ’63 Boycott project.

Medill Elementary School Search

While for most people, it’s really hard to remember much about fifty years ago, some people have a gift. Recently, Derrick Brown was on our website and identified at least eleven students he knew from his neighborhood growing up, all of whom attended Medill Elementary on the near west side and participated in the 1963 boycott of Chicago Public Schools.  v03_frontDerrick identified Curtis Morgan, his brother Maurice Morgan, Carolyn Stewart, Berenice Hatchett, Ceola Hatchett, Irish Hatchett, Linda Townsend, Gwen Anderson Jones, Evelyn Chapelle Spike, Arnold Lecey and his little brother Loaf of Bread Head Lecey.  If you know how to locate any of these people, or have memories of any of these people, or others, please let us know. There may be more identifiable students from Medill, and other schools we don’t know about. Check here to look. For an official lists of schools that participated in the boycott, check School by School Boycott Participation.

Here is the video of the Medill kids singing:

In 2009, Medill Elementary School closed due to low enrollment. All that remains is a facebook page. The building later opened up again as Chicago Academy for Advanced Technology High School, a contract school.


’63 Boycott Winter 2015 Update

Thanks to new funding from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, ’63 Boycott is back in production and continuing to identify more particpants from the 1963 boycott in our photo gallery and letting people know about the 1963 boycott. Most Chicagoans have never heard of the massive civil rights protest about education inequality. We have new photos on the site from Art Shay and Allan Koss, and a few slideshows to make it easier to look through the pictures both on phones and computers, and we identified a photo of Rosie Simpson, at a 73rd and Lowe protest that preceded the October boycott by a few months, as well as a photo of youth CORE president, Charles Smith.koss_22

Screenings and Events

Last fall, Gordon and Rachel participated in a panel for the American Friends Service Committee event as part of the exhibition Boycott! The Art of Economic Activism. They asked if we can make the work in progress and eventually finished film available to travel nationally with the exhibit of boycott posters. Tracye, Rachel, and Gordon also screened the work in progress and engaged in discussion with the University of Illinois at Chicago Documentary Studies Working Group.   The group regularly examines the link between documentary work and traditional scholarship and creates spaces where an interdisciplinary group of thinkers and practitioners can share work and exchange ideas.

This winter, we attended a panel discussion on Grassroots Leadership in Chicago’s African-American Community. See CANTV video of discussion here. Our friends from the Ankobia Archival Project, who are in the process of recording their oral histories of the racial struggle in Chicago, were on the panel (Rosie Simpson, Clarice Durham, Bennett Johnson, Burnetta Howell Barrett, James Adams, and Lorne Love).  The Harsh Special Collections at Woodson Library is collecting their primary source documents for use by teachers and students in Chicago.  James Adams spoke about Martin Luther King in Chicago, citing the grassroots civil rights organizing across the country and saying “The movement made King, King didn’t make the movement.” He also commented, “We have to do something for our children. It’s not about us, it’s about them,” and Rosie Simpson chimed in, “We are losing our history. A lot of young people don’t know anything about the movement.”

Talk to your parents and grandparentsThis inspired us to throw together the flyer above, and pass it out to Chicago Public School students all over the city. We passed them out to 1300 youth at Louder than a Bomb’s Crossing the Street event here in February,  The School Project events, and the Civil Rights: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow conference organized by the Chicago SNCC History Project.  At the conference, youth and civil rights veterans got together to talk about the past and future of public education and black struggles in Chicago. There was a special screening of WTTW’s Bird of the Iron Feather, television’s first black soap opera created by Clarice Durham’s husband, Richard Durham.

What does the 1963 Boycott have to do with the mayoral election?

According to our friend Steve Bogira at the Chicago Reader, racial segregation in Chicago is the most important issue that no one is talking about in the mayoral election. Under pressure, see who finally did talk about it here.

Production Continues: Rosie Simpson Interview

This entry was posted in Blog, Production Updates on by .


Last week, we interviewed Rosie Simpson, a union organizer and CPS parent who was a key player in the 1963 Boycott.  In August 1963, Ms. Simpson led a protest in Englewood at a construction site where CPS was attempting to build a school entirely out of trailer classrooms.  Yes, you read that right.  A school made of trailers in a vacant lot by train tracks.

Ms. Simpson’s will help us tell this interesting facet of the boycott story.  In April, we discovered footage of the Englewood protest among our original 16 mm film of the 1963 Boycott.  You can read more about that protest at this link, and see the footage below.  Ms. Simpson’s August 1963 protest eventually stopped construction of the trailer-school and laid the groundwork for the mass community action that came with the October boycott.


As you can see in the footage, the Englewood protest, which took place by train tracks at 73rd and Lowe, was a stark contrast to the peaceful Freedom Day boycott.  Ms. Simpson told us stories of police beating and bloodying nonviolent demonstrators, throwing them in paddy wagons and then sitting those crowded, cramped wagons in the hot sun for hours.

For years, Ms. Simpson was a tireless activist for education equality.  She also worked for the Packing House Workers Union, the Woodlawn Organization, and the Urban League.  The mother of six young children at the time of the boycott, she told us she spent most of October 22, 1963 visiting Freedom Schools, the makeshift classrooms set up for boycotting students.  She stayed involved with the movement after SCLC relocated to Chicago in 1965. Here she is pictured with Martin Luther King Jr.:


Ms. Simpson’s interview will be included in our half-hour documentary about the 1963 boycott.  You can also see her speaking as part of our panel from the 50th anniversary celebration of the boycott at the DuSable Museum on October 22, 2013.

Thanks Rosie!