Author Archives: '63 Boycott

’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.

Check out photos from the SOLD OUT anniversary screening!

Kartemquin Films and Metropolitan Planning Council collaborated for a special screening of ’63 Boycott. The event honored the 55th anniversary of Freedom Day, where more than 250,000 students boycotted CPS on October 22, 1963 to protest racial segregation. The anniversary sparked a meaningful conversation on how the fight for education equity continues today. Thanks to everyone who attended and supported!


Join us for a 55th Anniversary Screening on October 22!

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’63 Boycott: A 55th Anniversary Film Screening & Conversation

In honor of the 55th year since the 1963 CPS student boycott, join Metropolitan Planning Council and Kartemquin Films for a special screening. We will host an after-film panel discussion on the boycott and present-day activism driving racial equity in education.

Panelists include Producer Tracye Matthews, a student activist and Pemon Rami, a film producer/director and organizer of the 1968 CPS student walkout. WBEZ Reporter Sarah Karp will moderate the discussion. Director Gordon Quinn will give opening remarks.

Metropolitan Planning Council
140 S. Dearborn St., Suite 1400
Chicago, IL 60603
October 22, 2018, 5 to 7 p.m.
Purchase tickets here.

About the film

On October 22, 1963, more than 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) 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. Blending unseen 16mm footage of the march shot by Kartemquin founder Gordon Quinn 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.

‘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

’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.