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

’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

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

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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!

’63 Boycott at Chicago Filmmakers and KAM Temple

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Last Saturday, March 8, 2014, Chicago Filmmakers hosted a workshop called Interactive Storytelling: Models for Film and Media Makers, and invited the ’63 Boycott team to share our experiences. Associate Producer and Outreach Coordinator Rachel Dickson shared with fellow filmmakers some of the ins and outs of launching an interactive website and outreach campaign before the film itself is finished. To date, we have received over 40,000 unique visitors to our website and over 50 boycott participants have been tagged. We were joined on the panel by Kartemquin’s Dan Rybicky, who spoke about the interactive website for his film, Almost There, and three other talented filmmakers.

On Tuesday, March 11th, we presented the ’63 Boycott work in progress to the Munch and Learn group at the KAM Isaiah Israel Temple in Hyde Park. Over lunch, the group of over 30 community members asked questions, gave feedback, and shared their memories of the segregation and protests in their neighborhoods in the 60s. We were happy to be a part of the conversation.

’63 Boycott Interviews Tim Black for Documentary

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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!

Community Screenings of Boycott Work-in-progress

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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.

Watch Video from Our 50th Anniversary Event

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Here’s the video from our event, Lessons from ’63 Boycott:  The Struggle for Quality Education in Chicago Then and Now.  Panelist names and descriptions below the video.

Lessons from ’63 Boycott was held at the DuSable Museum of African American History on October 22nd, 2013.  The event drew over 450 people.

Tell us what your favorite moments were from that evening or from the panel in the comments box below!

 

Panelists (from left to right):

In 1963, Rosie Simpson was the mother of six young children and a leader in education reform in Chicago. She is believed to have coined the phrase “Willis Wagons” to describe the trailers that then-superintendent of schools Benjamin Willis set up for black children instead of sending them to white schools. She was one of the lead organizers of the 1963 Boycott and went on to work for the Packing House Workers Union, The Woodlawn Organization, and the Urban League.

Timuel Black is a revered educator, political activist, community leader, oral historian, and philosopher, born in the south and raised in Chicago. He is a pioneer in the independent black political movement and coined the phrase “plantation politics.” Dr. Black is among the original organizers of the 1963 Boycott of the Chicago Public Schools. He was chosen to organize the Chicago contingent of the two “Freedom Trains” for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Fannie Rushing served as a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) field secretary and Freedom School teacher from 1962 to 1966. Rushing is currently an associate professor in the Department of History at Benedictine University and the Co-Chair of the Chicago SNCC History project.

Elizabeth Todd-Breland is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her teaching and research focuses on 20th-century U.S. urban and social life, African American history, and the history of education. Her book manuscript, tentatively titled A Political Education: Black POlitics and Education Reform in Post-Civil Rights Chicago, analyzes transformations in Black politics, shifts in modes of education organizing, and the racial politics of education reform from the late 1960s to the present.

Jasson Perez is a Chicago-born organizer and former student of Chicago Public Schools. As a high school dropout and formerly incarcerated youth, Perez discovered on a personal level what’s at stake when schools become a pipeline to prison. Perez worked as a labor organizer with SEIU Local 73, working with the support staff at Chicago Public Schools in the fight against school closings since 2004 when CPS announced Renaissance 2010. He currently serves as Co-Chair of BYP100, Black Youth Project’s nationwide network of one hundred young black activists working to build a transformative justice movement that centers on a feminist, queer, differently-abled, and decolonial praxis.

Jitu Brown is the education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO). Born and raised in the Rosemoor neighborhood on the far south side of Chicago, Jitu attended Wendell Smith Elementary School and Kenwood Academy High School. Jitu also teaches African-American history at St. Leonard’s Adult High School. A believer in working locally and thinking globally, Jitu has taken youth leaders from KOCO to the United Nations, to the Passamaquoddy Native American reservation in Maine and to the UN Conference on Racism in South Africa. He has been published in the national education magazine Rethinking Schools, appeared in Ebony magazine and on several talk shows, including WBEZ’s Community Voices, Democracy Now and CLTV’s Gerard McClendon Live.

Trayce Matthews (moderator) is a historian, curator, and documentary filmmaker. She is currently the associate director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago, where she served as a Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in 2004-2005. Matthews is the co-producer of ’63 Boycott.

The spoken word piece “Multiple Choice” was performed by Malcolm London. Malcolm, called the Gil-Scott Heron of this generation by Cornel West, is a young Chicago poet, activist, and educator. Winner of Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival 2011 and member of UCAN’s National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, he is a teaching artist through Northwestern Bluhm Legal Clinic and Young Chicago Authors introducing poetry workshops and performances linked to juvenile and social justice to hundreds of youth.

Video by Alex Skalomenos.