A Great Find for '63 Boycott

Last night, the '63 Boycott team was invited to attend and show footage of the film at a workshop performance of Shades of Mississippi, a "mass meeting performance" based on the 1963 campaign to desegregate Chicago Public Schools, which culminated with the 1963 School Boycott.

Actors portraying demonstrators, SNCC organizers, CPS officials, white citizens and ordinary African Americans who lived with the relentless racism of early 1960s Chicago re-enacted a community meeting at Christ the Mediator Church on the South Side, sitting among the audience and performing from where they sat. The performance was preceded by a moving tribute to those present in the audience who had been part of the Civil Rights Movement. '63 Boycott director/producer Gordon Quinn presented our project to the audience (and got a big round of applause), showing the clip currently on display at the Chicago History Museum.

Through this event we were able to connect to a lot of Civil Rights activists and CPS students at the time of the boycott. One person who we spoke to, Sylvia Fischer, was actually an organizer of the Freedom Schools on the day of the boycott - and was able to spot herself in one of the few pictures that we had printed out and hung behind our booth. This is exactly what we hoped would happen as we attempt to identify and reconnect participants of the boycott.

Only a few thousand more people to identify! The march goes on. Shades of Mississippi was written and directed by the exceptionally talented and friendly Alan Marshall, who will be premiering the piece at the Goodman Theater this summer.

'63 Boycott will combine hours of unseen footage of the boycott with then-and-now interviews of participants and organizers in the 1963 Chicago Public School Boycott, who will be found, identified and reconnected through the project's website (launching April 1st). Kartemquin Films co-founders Gordon Quinn and Gerry Temaner were students at the University of Chicago in October 1963, and organized a film crew to capture the demonstration. The result is an astounding time capsule of this, until recently, largely forgotten history. A preview of the footage is currently on display as part of the Chicago History Museum’s “Facing Freedom Exhibit,” edited by Kartemquin Films’ Post-Production Manager, Matt Lauterbach.

Kartemquin Films invites participants across the country to share their stories of the Boycott and how it shaped their lives at www.63boycott.com, via email at 63boycott@kartemquin.com, or call 773-413-9263.