Last Wednesday, we filmed two new interviews for our forthcoming documentary, ’63 Boycott. The first was with a family of education activists – Annette Strickland, a PTA member at Carnegie School in 1963, her daughter Jill Willis, who was involved in the boycott as a student, and Jill’s niece Natasha Dunne, a CPS mom who fights the battle for quality public education with activist group Action Now. These three generations of women discussed the legacy of the boycott. Annette remembered the conditions that led to the protest:
The school was overcrowded, and we wanted some of the kids to go to a school that was less crowded, and rather than do that they brought in trailers and put on the property and we named them Willis Wagons because the head of the school district in Chicago was Willis. We decided to go on strike.
After that interview we headed a little further south to Hyde Park to meet Dr. Fannie Rushing, who at the age of 17 helped organize the boycott with Chicago Area Friends of SNCC, an early act in a lifetime of activism. She recalls when SNCC made the decision to shift focus from South to North:
The conditions of life in Chicago at the time were so horrendous, and particularly in the schools, that it became increasingly more difficult to only talk about the Southern movement. It had to be linked with what was going on here in Chicago.
See these interviews in a brand new preview of our film that will be screened on October 22nd at the Dusable Museum, as part of an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the CPS Boycott. Expect more info soon.
In the meantime, please join us at a screening of another preview of our film at The Chicago International Social Change Film Festival on September 27th.