Apparently, there has not been an overwhelmingly significant change in Chicago public schools as far as desegregation 55 years after one of the largest boycotts in the city’s history. The area’s school system is still segregated along racial lines, according to reports published this year.
Chicago was ground zero for a major protest on Oct. 22, 1963, in which hundreds of thousands of community members protested the city’s public school for race-based separation of students. The massive protest, known as “Freedom Day,” involved more than 200,000 children and adults. The movement had one of its most prominent supporters in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The protest was important because of its purpose and the sheer volume of protesters, but also because of its timing. Nearly a decade earlier, the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruled that segregated public education was unconstitutional. Yet, Chicago schools, devoid of an overt segregation policy, still had clear divisions between Black and white students.
Today, the Chicago public school system is still fragmented by segregation to some degree. The city, following a pattern more commonly seen in the South, has seemingly resegregated students, as reported by Vox in an article updated in August.
Many schools serve certain ethnicities in various neighborhoods in Chicago, with students grouped together by race and class. This is possible because school districts can re-zone in ways that can either bolster integration or hinder it. The school district’s population of white and Black students can also impact segregation. In Chicago, 8.9 percent of CPS students are white, a fact that has been criticized as a persuasion against integration in the city’s schools. It’s unclear what major solutions will be put into place to address segregation going forward.