'63 Boycott


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

63 Boycott
"The format may be traditional but historical context is succinctly laid out." | Photo: Kartemquin Films

The past meets the present in Gordon Quinn's 31-minute documentary - one of 10 in the running for an Oscar this year - as he uses archive footage and first-person testimony to explain the Chicago schools' boycott of 1963, before showing that 50 years on, protests are still necessary to stop segregation along racial lines.

The research is thorough and the historic footage plentiful and smoothly edited together by Liz Kaar. It illustrates many of the moments being recalled by some of the 250,000 who took part in the 1963 boycott, sparked by the deliberate separating of children that resulted in white kids having better school access to almost everything, while black kids attended overcrowded schools that frequently had mobile home classrooms. We see the protesters, then and now, as they talk about the detrimental impact that inferior schooling was having on their education and their opportunities in later life, the small personal details - such as one woman talking about the importance, as a youngster, of wearing pearls on the march to show she meant business - greatly adding to the film's impact.

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The format may be traditional but historical context is succinctly laid out, so that those with no former knowledge are quickly clued in to the situation across the US at the time and, in particular, the way that boundaries were being moved to maintain segregation by the backdoor.

Quinn's film becomes a celebration of community organising and solidarity, but also a pertinent reminder that the language around discrimination can change so that it feels softer, while the discrimination itself remains untouched.

Reviewed on: 09 Jan 2019
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Those who took part in the 1963 Chicago schools boycott tell the story.

Director: Gordon Quinn

Year: 2017

Runtime: 31 minutes

Country: US


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