The city’s all-powerful mayor was ignoring their pleas, so the public students of Chicago felt they had no choice but to walk out of school and march in protest.
That could be a headline ripped from today’s pages, as students join parents and teachers to protest Mayor Emanuel’s decision to close 54 public schools.
But in this case the protesting students were teenagers from 1963, and the mayor was Richard J. Daley.
They were protesting the segregation policy of cramming hundreds of students from city’s then-burgeoning black population into rickety trailers rather than putting them in white schools with plenty of room.
Most of the protests were directed at school superintendent Benjamin Willis—the trailers were nicknamed Willis Wagons—but the power behind Willis was the first Mayor Daley.
In that regard nothing except the name has changed in 50 years. Today’s CPS officials and board members are rubber stamps for Mayor Emanuel.