Skip to contents
Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Thursday’s Screening Of ’63 Boycott Documentary Links History To Hyde Park Students’ Experiences

Students and staff at Bret Harte Elementary will host Rosie Simpson, organizer of a massive protest against school segregation, for a screening of the documentary, "'63 Boycott."

A still from the 2016 documentary "'63 Boycott," which profiles a walkout of more than 200,000 Chicago Public Schools students protesting educational inequality in the district.
Kartemquin Films
  • Credibility:

HYDE PARK — Bret Harte Elementary students will join longtime Chicago activist Rosie Simpson for a screening and discussion of the documentary “’63 Boycott” Thursday.

The virtual screening of the documentary on the 1963 Chicago Public Schools boycott will be held 6–8 p.m. Thursday. You can sign up for the event online.

More than 200,000 students walked out of class on Oct. 22, 1963, protesting de facto segregation in Chicago’s schools.

Months of protests that culminated in the boycott were led by a group of organizers including Simpson — then an Englewood resident and parent of CPS students — and famed civil rights activist Al Raby.

Credit: Kartemquin
Rosie Simpson and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Many students then joined a march demanding the resignation of then-CPS chief Benjamin Willis, infamous for his “Willis Wagons:” aluminum trailers shipped in to Chicago’s overcrowded Black schools, in lieu of allowing Black students to enroll in white schools with empty seats.

The film, released in 2016, is centered around footage of the boycott and march. Modern-day interviews with boycott participants are included alongside the footage from 1963.

Simpson will lead a panel discussion with four Bret Harte students following the 30-minute film. They will connect the fight for educational equality in the ’60s to current inequalities that have been amplified by the coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Kartemquin
Rosie Simpson

Bret Harte Principal Charles Bright, local school council member Erica Walker and documentary producer Rachel Dickson will be on hand to discuss a new curriculum based on the 1963 boycott for teachers to use. The screening is organized by Friends of Bret Harte Elementary and Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education.

Watch the trailer for “’63 Boycott:”

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Already subscribe? Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.