[’63 Boycott: Rosie Simpson 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 parent activist and community organizer Rosie Simpson.

00:00Copy video clip URL Rosie Simpson introduces biographical details and first experiences with activism.

02:48Copy video clip URL Simpson describes the issue of overcrowding and disparities of access to adequate resources in Chicago Public Schools. Upon learning that her children would be moved to a new educational facility, Simpson talks about her initial involvement in education activism.

05:10Copy video clip URL Interview resumes. Simpson talks about the first efforts to organize Freedom Schools among parents.

06:51Copy video clip URL Interviewer Tracye A. Matthews asks how segregation was maintained by the Chicago Board of Education’s policies. Simpson explains de-facto segregation.

10:08Copy video clip URL Simpson explains how she first learned of the Board of Education’s plan to build an all-mobile unit school at 73rd and Lowe Ave. Interviewer asks about the parent protests at 73rd and Lowe in August 1963.

16:30Copy video clip URL Simpson mentions former Mayor Daley’s comment that the parents who protested were “outside demonstrators.” Simpson says of the parent’s response: “We decided we were going to prove to him that we were in control.” On the day of the March on Washington, Simpson says, the Board of Education rescinded their recommendation to build the school at 73rd and Lowe, the first time the Board has rescinded their own recommendation.

17:55Copy video clip URL Simpson relates the organizing efforts at 73rd and Lowe to the larger school boycott movement. The Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO), says Simpson, then met and decided to call a city-wide school boycott. Simpson tells how she then helped organized the Parent’s Council for the CCCO to prepare communities to set up Freedom Schools on the day of the boycott.

22:00Copy video clip URL Simpson on the importance of parental involvement in Black communities for the Freedom School movement and create change in the educational system.

23:32Copy video clip URL Logistics and strategy behind organizing the 1963 boycott.

25:02Copy video clip URL Simpson’s role on the day of the boycott. She further describes the atmosphere and experience on the day of the boycott.

28:51Copy video clip URL Aftermath and effects of the boycott. Simpson explains the rationale behind the need for a second boycott. Simpson denounces the racist motivations of superintendent Benjamin Willis.

31:16Copy video clip URL Organizing for the second city-wide boycott. Simpson describes the tension between some members of the CCCO to organize for a second boycott, differing views of leaders in charge of social service agencies versus a grassroots organizing perspective.

33:02Copy video clip URL Simpson tells of Willis’ resignation during the first boycott, his reinstatement, and the purpose of the second boycott to permanently remove Willis.

34:22Copy video clip URL Mayor Daley’s influence on the Board of Education. Comparisons to the Board of Education’s relationship with mayor Rahm Emanuel.

35:41Copy video clip URL Interview break. Adjustments made to the interview setting.

37:01Copy video clip URL Interview resumes. Legacy of the boycott and its aftermath. Simpson describes her later involvement in the Student Woodlawn Area Project (SWAP).

41:04Copy video clip URL Parents Council of Integrated Schools. Simpson talks about changes made during that time to get parents more involved in schools and the educational system.

42:53Copy video clip URL Lessons learned by Simpson for movement building, organizing, and fighting for change in society.

45:35Copy video clip URL Comparisons to Chicago’s current-day issues in the education system.

50:35Copy video clip URL Parents’ perspective of the mobile classroom units, also known as “Willis Wagons.”

53:35Copy video clip URL Simpson talks about her children and their involvement with the boycott.

56:27Copy video clip URL Curriculum of the Freedom Schools on the day of the boycott.

57:42Copy video clip URL Police brutality at the 73rd and Lowe protests.

60:12Copy video clip URL Nonviolence as a strategy on the day of the 1963 boycott.

64:55Copy video clip URL Simpson’s opinion and critique of the ’63 Boycott documentary rough cut version. Analysis of the roles played by groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Additional questions posed by the interviewers. Names of other organizers remembered along with further clarification on the timeline of events.

73:45Copy video clip URL Simpson mentions another archiving project called the Ankobia Project. It’s goal is to document the living history of important figures in the Civil Rights movement.

79:49Copy video clip URL Simpson explains how her mother influenced her activism and related to the boycott. Simpson talks about her m0ther’s experience with racism and growing up in Louisiana.

83:50Copy video clip URL Simpson discusses her relationship to other people interviewed for the ’63 Boycott documentary.

89:33Copy video clip URL Room tone.

90:11Copy video clip URL Photograph of Simpson with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Conversation with Simpson continues in the background.


1 Comment

  1. Kimya says:

    Thank you

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