New York School Boycott

Background:

In one of the largest demonstrations of the Civil Rights movement, hundreds of thousands of parents, students and civil rights advocates took part in a citywide boycott of the New York City public school system to demonstrate their support for the full integration of the city's public schools and an end to de facto segregation. The idea for a boycott began in the early 1960s, when Milton Galamison, a Presbyterian minister and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's (NAACP) Brooklyn branch, brought parents, teachers, and local civil rights activists together in a coalition called the Parents' Workshop for Equality in New York City Schools. The organization's sole objective was to render the racial imbalance of African American and Puerto Rican schools by persuading the New York City Board of Education to implement integration timetables. After years of unsuccessful lobbying, the Parents' Workshop for Equality decided to take direct action against the school board and called upon Bayard Rustin to organize a one-day protest and boycott of the city's public school system. With the boycott set for February 3, 1964, Rustin worked with local Civil Rights organizations to plan the boycott, as well as local ministers who established freedom schools for participating students to attend. Response from the African American and Puerto Rican communities was overwhelming as more than 450,000 students refused to attend their respective schools on the day of the boycott. In addition, thousands of demonstrators staged peaceful rallies at the Board of Education, City Hall and the Manhattan office of Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Despite enjoying broad support, the boycott failed to force the city's school board to undertake immediate reform.

Expand all | Collapse all | Results view

Archival Collections and Reference Resources