Charles Smith

Camera original footage shot for the documentary '63 Boycott from Kartemquin Films. ’63 Boycott is a thirty-minute documentary and web project highlighting the stories of participants in the 1963 Chicago Public School (CPS) Boycott (also known as Freedom Day). One of the largest Civil Rights demonstrations in the city’s history, on October 22, 1963, a coalition of civil rights groups, local activists, and 250,000 students staged a mass boycott and demonstration against the Chicago Board of Education to protest racial segregation and inadequate resources for Black students. This interview is with architect Charles Smith, a former organizer and leader with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

00:00Copy video clip URL Documentary crew situates proper lighting, sound, and setting.

03:48Copy video clip URL Interviewer Tracye A. Matthews coaches Charles Smith on interview format for the documentary.

04:09Copy video clip URL Director Gordon Quinn asks for a white balance.

08:47Copy video clip URL Smith mentions controversy in the Chicago architecture community surrounding the contract for the Obama presidential library.

11:05Copy video clip URL Interview begins. Smith talks about his origins and how he and his family came to live in Chicago.

12:18Copy video clip URL Sound adjustments interrupt the interview

13:16Copy video clip URL Smith describes his involvement in the Congress of Racial Equality.

14:12Copy video clip URL Another sound adjustment interrupts the interview.

16:39Copy video clip URL Interview resumes. Smith describes his life in 1963 and involvement in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). He then continues to talk about his involvement with the Civil Rights movement during high school, spurred by the events surrounding Emmett Till’s murder. Further, he relates some comparisons between CORE and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “Snick”).

19:04Copy video clip URL Mention of Willis Wagons.

20:02Copy video clip URL Conditions of Chicago Public Schools from Smith’s perspective, the effects of racial discrimination in housing, education, and jobs.

21:32Copy video clip URL Direct actions that Smith participated in leading up to the boycott.

23:23Copy video clip URL Video interrupts then resumes. Smith talks about the students who shot original footage of the boycott in 1963. Then, he talks about a sit-in at the Chicago Board of  Education, an action that anticipated the 1963 boycott.

27:15Copy video clip URL Smith’s awareness of parental activism and Rosie Simpson’s organizing surrounding the proposed 73rd and Lowe all-mobile unit school. He describes the growing awareness in the press about their organizing efforts on education, as well as the developing awareness of the so-called Willis Wagons.

29:14Copy video clip URL Brief interruption to the interview for sound-related adjustments.

30:00Copy video clip URL Return to the Board of Education sit-in.

31:50Copy video clip URL Leadership and planning meetings of the boycott organizers. Smith explains differences in approach and outlook among the varying organizing groups.

34:15Copy video clip URL Smith talks about police surveillance (“Red Squads”) during the protests and demonstrations of that period. He also describes an incident involving officers with Federal Bureau of Investigation who showed up at his house one night.

35:27Copy video clip URL Smith attempts to recall the day of the boycott. His assessment of the boycott’s success.

39:21Copy video clip URL Smith describes the boycott’s ability to raise awareness by disrupting economic flow to the Chicago Public Schools. Impact of the boycott on the current state of education in Chicago.

41:48Copy video clip URL Connections between segregation and discrimination in housing and educational policies.

44:17Copy video clip URL Impact of Smith’s work in activism on his life.

46:21Copy video clip URL Smith’s perspective of the boycott’s legacy.

50:08Copy video clip URL Smith shares his experience on the local school council for the Near Northside. He further discusses current day issues in Chicago schools.

60:30Copy video clip URL Room tone.

 

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