‘63 Boycott: Today is Freedom Day | Facing History & Ourselves

‘63 Boycott: Today is Freedom Day

During the 1963 Chicago Public Schools Boycott, 225,000 students protested racial segregation and unequal conditions in Chicago's schools. This video features footage of the boycott and student participants' eyewitness accounts.
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At a Glance



English — US


  • Civics & Citizenship
  • History
  • Culture & Identity
  • Democracy & Civic Engagement
  • Human & Civil Rights
  • Racism

Why are you out of school today?

Because today is Freedom Day.

Why am I? Because I want to march for my freedom rights.

Are you going to march?

No, I'm not going to march.


If I don't go to school I'm going to march.

Yeah, me too.

Some teachers have been saying that if you stay out of school today, then they are-- you know, give you Ds, they will fail you for the day.

I don't think they have any right to do this. And I'm not afraid of them myself, but they don't threaten me.

Oh, at Crane, it's hardly no students there at all. We got our population in Crane of about 3,500 and not even 100 kids now.

I wish they wouldn't know about in school. I wish the whole school was empty.


We want freedom.



We don't what no segregation.

OK, let's move on out.

Did you get the picture?

(CHANTING) 2, 4, 6, 8. We don't want to segregate. 2, 4, 6, 8. We don't want to segregate. 2, 4, 6, 8. We don't want to segregate. Two-four-six-eight! we don't want to segregate.

I think every child should have an equal opportunity to get a good education. And I think that we have-- should have as much freedom as any other citizen of the United States.

We as parents I think we could do a great help if we walk in this Freedom March.

I think this is one of the most wonderful demonstrations and stand for freedom that Negro Chicago has ever had.

We are definitely interested in the education of our children. We want quality in education, that's the main reason why we're marching today.

(SHOUTING) What do you want?




What do you want?




The books we get they aren't new books, they are second hand books and some of the teachers have explained it to us. And we don't have enough books to go around to each student. So we have to share books.

So what's your name?

Ralph Davis.

Ralph Davis?


What school do you go to?

Waller right now.

Waller? What about Waller School?

Well, right now it's in pretty bad shape.

Why is it in bad shape?

It's crowded. They got mobile schools.

Do you feel personally you're not getting the education that you're entitled to?

Personally, I feel that way. I'm not getting what I should, because somebody is sharing what I should have all for myself.



I got very glad to see such a good turnout. I'm very much in favor of integration and I'm sorry that Mr. Willis hasn't done more about it.

(SINGING) Go, go, Willis, go now. Go, go, go. Go, Mr. Willis. Go now. Go, go, go. Go, Mr. Willis. Go now. Go, go, go. Go, Mr. Willis. Go, now. Go, go, go. Go, Mr. Willis. Go now.


Kartemquin Films

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