63 Boycott

Filmmakers: Rachel Dickson, Tracye A. Matthews, Gordon Quinn

Runtime: 30 min

On October 22, 1963, more than 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. Many marched through the city calling for the resignation of School Superintendent Benjamin Willis, who placed trailers, dubbed ‘Willis Wagons,’ on playgrounds and parking lots of overcrowded black schools rather than let them enroll in nearby white schools. Blending unseen 16mm footage of the march shot by Kartemquin founder Gordon Quinn with the participants’ reflections today, ’63 Boycott connects the forgotten story of one of the largest northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education, school closings, and youth activism.

About the Filmmakers

Rachel Dickson is an independent documentary filmmaker based in Chicago. Before working in film, she worked as a print and radio journalist in Latin America. She is currently the Supervising Producer of The School Project, a series of short documentaries and webisodes about public education collaboratively produced by Kartemquin Films, Kindling Group, Media Process Group, Siskel/Jacobs Productions, and Free Spirit Media.

Tracye A. Matthews is a historian, curator, and documentary filmmaker. She is currently the associate director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, where she served as a Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in 2004-2005.

Gordon Quinn—Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films—has been making documentaries for 50 years. In his first film, Home for Life, heralded as “an extraordinarily moving documentary” by Roger Ebert, he established the direction of his life and career: storytelling that examines the broader culture through the unfolding lives of real people.