Category Archives: Front Page Item

’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

This entry was posted in Blog, Front Page Item on by .

Saturday, October 21 1pm
Rainbow/PUSH
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 63boycott@kartemquin.com

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.

Making an Archival Film in the Digital Age

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

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 ktq50.org/exhibit

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1963 Chicago School Boycott

While Martin Luther King, Jr. did not arrive to Chicago to organize until 1966, almost three years after the Great Chicago School Boycott, we know he met with some of the key organizers of the boycott in Chicago and was very influenced by the work that they had done prior to his arrival.

Rosie simpson and MLK copy

Boycott parent organizer Rosie Simpson meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On July 10, 1966, at a Chicago Freedom Movement Rally, King said in his speech:

We are tired of inferior, segregated, and overcrowded schools which are incapable of preparing our young people for leadership and security in this technological age.

In 1966, a young student named Paulette called into WVON to talk about the day when she and her friend Bobby Johnson boycotted school to protest segregation and inequality in schools. Later, her private school friends, asked her what she accomplished, and she started to doubt herself.  This is Martin Luther King’s response to her, where he details why what Chicago did in 1963, and in the subsequent boycotts, was so important:

To listen to 4-minute clip that includes Paulette’s lengthy question, you can here.

 

Two Chicago Schools Inch Closer to Integration

Both the principals at Ogden Elementary and Jenner Elementary, on Chicago’s near north side, have come out in support of consolidating the two schools into one. While the student population at each school is on opposite ends of the income divide, this step could not only resolve overcrowding at Ogden and under-enrollment at Jenner, according to the principals it would begin a “process of healing the harm done by the historical legacy of segregation based on race and class.” Ultimately, the Board of Education has the sole authority to approve the merger, although the Local School Councils are in the process of voting at each school. The idea of a merger has grown increasingly contentious. Read more here.
crossing-guards
Students from Jenner Elementary were out the day of the 1963 Boycott. 95% of the students boycotted school that day.

The Problem We All Live With

Recently, This American Life tackled desegregation in schools. The two-part program details first an accidental desegregation program in Missouri, and then an intentional one in Connecticut. New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones reports that “Between 1971, which is when the nation started doing massive desegregation, and 1988, which was the peak of school integration in the United States, the achievement gap between black and white students went from 40 points to 18 points. Integration cut the achievement gap between black and white students by half.” She goes on: “Black people first arrived on this continent as slaves in 1619; so it was 352 years to create the problem, and 17 to cut that school achievement problem in half– pretty fast. We would be so close to eliminating the achievement gap if we had continued to integrate, but instead, since 1988 we have started to re-segregate, and it’s then that we see the achievement gap started to widen again.”562enlarged

Pretty interesting stuff. Check out Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

“It is not that something magical happens when black kids sit next to white kids in a classroom, that suddenly a switch turns on and they get intelligent. Integration gets black kids in the same facilities as white kids and gets them access to same things – quality teachers and quality instruction.”

“According to the US Department of Education, black and latino kids in segregated schools have the worst access to resources. High concentrations of students who grew up in poverty contribute to achievement gap.”