On February 25th, 1964, over 175,000 Chicago Public Schools students boycotted school to protest segregation and inequality. Like the first boycott on October 22, 1963, the protest included a march downtown and Freedom Schools – makeshift classrooms in churches and synagogues featuring Civil Rights-based curriculum – for boycotting students to attend.
Freedom Day II really showed the school board the power of the protest movement, and that it was not going to stop. Superintendent Willis’s days were numbered after this protest, with his career ending in an early “retirement” in 1966.
Below are articles from the Chicago Defender on February 26th, 1964, reporting on the success of Freedom Day II, which coincided with the boxing match that first made soon-to-be Muhammad Ali a heavyweight champion.
If you have any stories to share about Freedom Day II or the initial 1963 Boycott, please contact us!
Yesterday, we interviewed the inimitable Timuel Black for our upcoming documentary on the 1963 Chicago Public School Boycott. Timuel Black is a revered educator, historian, and activist who helped organize the Boycott. Particularly, he helped with the “Freedom Schools,” makeshift classrooms in churches and synagogues throughout the city with Civil Rights-based curriculum for students who were boycotting school. Timuel also participated on the panel at our 50th anniversary celebration of the 1963 Boycott.
Check back for more updates on our film’s progress!
One of the organizers of the 1963 Boycott, Roberta Galler (pictured above, center) passed away on Wednesday. She leaves behind a legacy of Civil Rights activism.
Retired Chicago teacher Fred Klonsky posted this on his blog:
Fellow Boycott organizers Don Rose and Rosie Simpson, both featured in our forthcoming documentary, sent us statements as well.
“Roberta’s death is a real loss. So smart, dedicated and competent. Working alongside her in numerous civil rights activities in Chicago was a pleasure, a privilege and a major learning experience. She is one of the few people who really made things happen while others stood before the cameras and took the credit. I was especially impressed when she told me about working “undercover” as kind of a spy in a white racist/anti-Semitic group–I believe for a Jewish agency. Took guts and courage in addition to all the qualities I mentioned above.”
“Roberta was an extraordinary person. Roberta was really committed to the movement and was an inspiration to a lot of people, especially in the SNCC office. She was a dynamic person. I’m grateful that our paths crossed, and her personality was just – I wish I could’ve had a personality like hers. She always smiled, was always upbeat, and always positive.”
“I was deeply saddened to read of the death of Roberta Galler. She was truly an instrumental and important part of the history of SNCC in Chicago and the boycott.”
Learn more about her life here.
Many thanks to Dr. Nicole Holland for inviting us to screen our work-in-progress cut last night at Northeastern University’s Dr. Kenneth N. Addison Lecture for Multicultural Education and Social Justice! The event follows close on the heels of another Boycott WIP screening for students at Young Chicago Authors and DePaul University.
Last night’s screening was followed by an engaging panel discussion featuring participants in the ’63 Boycott and today’s education activists. Click here to read the program.