The 1963 Chicago Public Schools Boycott

Chapter 8: The Legacy

How are these actions to be evaluated today? The immediate goal of ousting Willis was not met by either boycott; he remained in his position until 1966. But whatever their immediate results, they established a base for mass activism, which was mobilized throughout the ensuing decades to bring pressure on the city's administration of education.

Many of the underlying prejudices that allowed school segregation and material disparities to exist, still continue to affect current public schools in Black communities. More recently, the Dyett Hunger Strike, which united educators with activists, students, and parents, was coordinated in response to the closure of Dyett High School and the necessity of an open-enrollment high school in the Washington Park neighborhood. This is only one out of countless other examples in Chicago alone where the community members had to fight for the basic American right to a decent public education.

Now in 2020, the legacy of the 1963 Boycotts lives on in student activism. This summer's Black Lives Matter demonstrations that surged across the country in both major and minor cities were, in part, a response to police brutality and police presence in schools and Black spaces. This fight is particularly relevant in Chicago, where the city continues to lag in school funding -- particularly in majority-minority neighborhoods.

The fight for justice is still in action. The 1963 Boycott was not just a historical moment -- it is part of a monumental movement.

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