[’63 Boycott: Jill Willis and Annette Stricland Interview]

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 features Annette Stricland and her daughter Jill Willis, who marched in the 1963 Boycott.

00:00Copy video clip URL ’63 Boycott crew establishes interview setting

00:48Copy video clip URL Interviewer Tracye Matthews begins with introductory questions.

01:10Copy video clip URL Stricland and Willis describe their lives in 1963.

03:38Copy video clip URL Stricland describes the school conditions her children experienced growing up in Woodlawn. As president of the Parent Teacher Association at Carnegie Elementary School, Stricland helped organize for the 1963 boycott, working with Rosie Simpson and The Woodlawn Organization (TWO).

07:30Copy video clip URL Interview breaks for camera adjustment. Brief discussion comparing parent involvement in school issues between 1963 and the 2010s.

09:10Copy video clip URL Interview resumes. Stricland describes the PTA’s resistance to Willis Wagons (the epithet named after Benjamin Willis, Chicago Public Schools Superintendent who decided to use aluminum mobile trailers as overflow classrooms in majority black CPS schools). Stricland also compares the relative conditions of public schools between Woodlawn and Wilmette, IL, comparing the stark disparities in resources allocated to schools in each area, participating with the Student Area Woodlawn Project (SWAP).

12:54Copy video clip URL Jill Willis recalls her life in 1963. Willis describes her perspective of her mother’s involvement with the school PTA and work at then Alderman Leon Despres. She likewise remembers how the multitude of political events that occurred in 1963 shaped her understanding of the Civil Rights movement. Willis’ involvement in the 1963 boycott helped further her involvement with the movement.

17:02Copy video clip URL Stricland attempts to recall the events on the day of the boycott.

19:20Copy video clip URL Interview breaks.

19:47Copy video clip URL Interview resumes. Willis describes her personality as a child and growing social consciousness. She recalls early lessons in learning about the disparities and quality of life that existed along divisions of race and class. Willis describes growing up in the Hyde Park and Woodlawn neighborhood and her familiarity with the University of Chicago as a child.

24:56Copy video clip URL Stricland describes her view of the boycott’s successes and achievements. She also talks about the difficulties to involve parents and community members in the boycott movement. She also briefly talks about working for Alderman Despres and her perception of Mayor Richard Daley’s political strategies.

34:10Copy video clip URL Willis describes her experience as a student at Carnegie High School. Stricland reflects on the reluctance of many teachers to openly endorse the boycott. Willis talks about the adverse effects of integration on black students in Chicago.

40:02Copy video clip URL Interviewer asks Willis about her perceptions of de-facto segregation in the Chicago Public Schools in 1963. Willis describes the significant disparities of material resources between schools on the South vs North sides, even though she felt supported by the staff and educators at her school on the South side. Discussion continues about the conditions of Carnegie High School in the early 1960s. Willis and Stricland compare neighborhood conditions in the past versus the present day.

47:54Copy video clip URL A take of a candid conversation between Willis and Stricland.

50:48Copy video clip URL Discussion about the organization of the Student Woodlawn Area Project (SWAP), a tutoring program between high school students in Hyde Park and Woodlawn and students at the University of Chicago.



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