63 Boycott @ Montreal International Black Film Festival

During the 60s plenty of civil rights marches and protests took place. Though this one was one of the biggest it has largely been forgotten about. More than 50 years later when the U.S. is going through another time filled with racial inequalities (though it has never really left them) it seems an appropriate time to take another look at this event from 1963.

In 1963 in Chicago there was a school boycott which totalled more than 200,000 people. They were mostly CPS srudents, who were protesting the segregation policies of Superintendent Benjamin Willis. To deal with overcrowded black schools he ordered aluminium mobile trailers which he had placed on vacant lots. They were dubbed Willis’ Wagons. He would not even consider allowing blacks to enroll in the white school, which had place. This was his best idea for a permanent solution to the overcrowding problem.

Hundreds of thousands marched through the streets demanding the resignation of Willis. No longer willing to put up with the inequality in the education system just because of the colour of their skin, they stood together in great numbers.

Not just willing to look upon the 63 Boycott as something historical, the film links up what was happening then to what is going on now in the United States. Issues of race, socioeconomic situation, education, and activism are examined.

Directed by Gordon Quinn (A Good Man, Prisoner of Her Past), the 30 minute short film uses interviews from the past and present with people who were involved in this boycott. He has also gotten his hands on some 16 mm film from the time which has never been seen until now. Interviews with students and footage of the march really rounds out the picture of what went on at the time.

 

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