Monthly Archives: October 2013

Are You Happy With Your Books?

This entry was posted in Blog, Photos and Documents on by .


Here are a few leaflets and odds-and-ends from Freedom School curriculums on October 22nd, 1963. Schoolbooks were a major issue for those participating in the Boycott, as many African American schools were either lacking libraries or up-to-date learning materials. Watch two students talk about their books in our footage of the Boycott below.





New Footage of Freedom Schools

50 years ago today, students who chose to boycott school were given the option to attend Freedom Schools, makeshift classes set-up by education activists primarily in churches, temples and synagogues.  The curriculum was Civil Rights themed, and activities included historical skits, Freedom Songs, and painting picket signs for the rally downtown later that afternoon.

Below is some of our footage from one of the Freedom Schools, taken (we believe) at the KAM Synagogue, now the headquarters of Rainbow PUSH Coalition.  If you recognize anyone or have any further information about this Freedom School, contact us through our site.

This is the first time we’re releasing this footage – it has spent most of the past 50 years in a box.  Enjoy!

“These Schools Are Your Schools” by the Willis Singers

This song – based, of course, on “This Land is Your Land” – was written by activists Don Rose and Wayne Willy to promote the Boycott. So far, we know that Lorne Cress Love (interviewed in our film), Curtis Muhammad, and Charles “Chico” Neblett of the Freedom Singers all performed on the track. This recording was broadcast on 98.7 WFMT’s “Midnight Special” the Friday before the Oct. 22 School Boycott.

If you have any more information about this recording, please email us at

Chicago Defender: October 21, 1963

This entry was posted in Blog, Photos and Documents on by .

Below is a compilation of articles from The Chicago Defender, the city’s great African American newspaper, which featured extensive coverage of the swiftly approaching Boycott.

Segregationist School Superintendent Benjamin C. Willis really knew how to accessorize. In addition to the “Willis Wagons,” trailers placed on playgrounds and parking lots of African American schools which he touted as a solution to overcrowding, he also had a masonry wall built outside of his offices to prevent sit-ins:

Finally, the Defender posted the locations of the Freedom Schools, where parents participating in the Boycott could take their children for a day of educational-themed programming. Most of these schools were in religious centers, such as churches or synagogues.  Our film contains footage of a Freedom School that we believe was shot in the K.A.M. Temple, now the headquarters of Rainbow PUSH Coalition.  You can see stills from that footage in our South Side gallery.

If you worked at one of these centers or attended a Freedom School as a student, contact our project – we would love to hear your story.