The 1963 Chicago Public Schools BoycottMain MenuChapter 1: IntroductionChapter 2: The Segregated CityThe use of "redlining" in Chicago by the FHA created a systemically racially segregated city.Chapter 3: Chicago School SegregationCPS superintendent Ben Willis changed the borders of the school districts to avoid integration, which allowed him to increase the budget and resources in white schools, and neglect Black schools.Chapter 4: Willis Wagons"Aluminum mobile school units” – in other words, trailers – were placed on the playgrounds and parking lots of African American schools as a permanent solution to overcrowdingChapter 5: The Englewood Parent ProtestAs objection to Willis' Wagons grew, one group of parents organized to hold protests at the planned site of a new school.Chapter 6: The BoycottAfter the Illinois Board of Education refused Willis' resignation, community organizers across Chicago knew that it was time for drastic action; they planned and executed a citywide student strike.Chapter 7: The Second BoycottChapter 8: The LegacyAfter the 1963 demonstrations, one of the most important take-aways from them was the precedent set by student activism.About the Exhibit
12020-10-19T21:11:35+00:00Kate Flynn7a93418b93b9db509597a67ae6311be88dcb38d6151Two students on their way to school.plain2020-10-19T21:11:35+00:00civil rights, youth, educationcarrying schoolbooks.jpegIn Copyright. This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).Kartemquin Films; UIC Special Collections & ArchivesChicago, ILKate Flynn7a93418b93b9db509597a67ae6311be88dcb38d6
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12020-10-19T21:11:35+00:00Chapter 8: The Legacy1After the 1963 demonstrations, one of the most important take-aways from them was the precedent set by student activism.plain2020-10-19T21:11:35+00:00 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.