Lessons from the 1963 Boycott

We had a highly successful, co-sponsored Campaign for Artful Resistance event on October 22nd to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 boycott of Chicago Public Schools, when an estimated 250,000 Chicagoans – mostly CPS students – protested segregation and inequality.  More than 350 people from the Chicago community attended the screening of a 23 minute version of the Kartemquin Films documentary titled, 63 Boycott.

The screening of the film was followed by a panel discussion which had 3 of the organizers and students from the original boycott and two activists from today (Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers Union President; Rosie Simpson, 63 Boycott leader; Fannie Rushing, one of the young organizers of the 1963 Boycott; Elizabeth Todd-Breland, a historian at University of Illinois in Chicago; and Jasson Perez of Black Youth Project).  As a group, the panel provided a historical perspective that easily links to the events that Chicago’s schools and communities face now.  Ample time was given to questions and answers, and this led to a wide ranging discussion of the lessons learned and application to today.  Rosie Simpson probably said it best… Organizing must start with the persons effected the most: parents and students.  We must listen to them if we want to move numbers of people to act.

The 23 minute version of the documentary that was presented at this event will be displayed in the near future in The National Gallery of Artful Resistance.  Also, see footage from the 1963 Boycott, and learn more by visiting the DuSable Museum of African American History.

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