’63 Boycott raw: Natasha Dunne, 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, her daughter Jill Willis and granddaughter Natasha Dunne.

00:00Copy video clip URL ’63 Boycott crew finishes setting the scene. Interviewer Tracye Matthews asks for introductions. Interview resets for a sound adjustment. Natasha Dunne introduces herself and her history in education and working with community organizers.

02:13Copy video clip URL Dunne describes contemporary issues in education and public schools and how they compare with issues in the past. Dunne describes her experience as a substitute teacher in public schools and how that impacted her children’s education and how that caused her to need to advocate for her children within the school system.

09:07Copy video clip URL Dunne talks about her experience with Operation Breadbasket and Rainbow Push Coalition. Under the influence of her mother, Jill Willis, Dunne began to grow in her identity as a community activist.

10:19Copy video clip URL Matthews invites Willis and Stricland to compare current-day issues (2013) in education with their experiences in the 1960s. Willis talks about the importance of training African-American professionals dedicated to the education of new generations. Dunne outlines the “disenfranchisement” teachers face in the current school system, the alienation of parents, and the private interests that drive the Chicago Public School Board. Economic distress further obstructs student success, along with racial disparities in teacher demographics, Dunne says. Criminalization of black youth and the lack of resources diverted to predominately Black schools also impact current day students. Willis also describes the importance of teachers and school role models that impart a sense of belief and support to students.

21:54Copy video clip URL The legacy and impact of education organizing from the 1960s to the current day. Willis describes the “mixed blessings” of integration and the social consequences of eliminating economic diversity in Black neighborhoods. Dunne talks about the effects of mass Chicago Public School closings in 2013 and compares current-day issues with those from the 1960s. Enduring issues of discrimination in hiring teachers and evaluating teacher and student performance, racism, and socioeconomic inequality continue to heavily impact CPS students, say Dunne and Willis.

30:46Copy video clip URL Director Gordon Quinn asks about the consequences of a school system where teachers feel “under attack” and its effects on young students. After recent school closings and this massive job loss in the Black community, Willis and Dunne see this as an attack on the lower and middle class in Black communities. Willis connects former CPS superintendent Benjamin Willis’ policy of containment by using so-called Willis Wagons to contain students in overcrowded schools in Black communities from moving to white or more affluent communities. This is further connected with the legacy of slavery and racism in the United States.

43:28Copy video clip URL Dunne talks about her efforts to organize parents and community members to support local schools, parks, and main streets. She portrays the many effects a school closing can have on any neighborhood in Black communities. As the school where her children attend was deemed a “Turnaround” school, she began a process of growing community investment in the school.

47:25Copy video clip URL Break in the interview. Interview resumes, continuing discussion about the impact of recent school closings.

49:00Copy video clip URL Name identification and room tone.

 

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