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Fight School Segregation! exhibit documents movement to improve Chicago schools

Drawing on documents and photographs from the Chicago Urban League Records and other collections in UIC's Special Collections and Archives Department, the exhibit "Fight School Segregation! Building a Protest Movement in Chicago," features the movement for racial integration and equality within the Chicago Public Schools.

Between 1957 and 1966, civil rights activists, teachers, parents, and students created a protest movement seeking to integrate and improve Chicago’s segregated and unequal public schools. Researchers and activists from longstanding civic organizations like the Chicago Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People joined with new civil rights organizations such as the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations and The Woodlawn Organization to mount a concerted research effort, a public education campaign, and a militant protest movement.

The exhibit explores how this broad range of radical and reform organizations and individuals combined to demand immediate racial integration and equality. The movement to desegregate the Chicago Public Schools created the mass base for the Chicago Freedom Movement that sought to end slums, but ended in deep disappointment which contributed to racial polarization in the city during the late 1960s and 1970s.

The records of the Chicago Urban League were processed under a two-year grant from Save America’s Treasures, a federal program administered by the National Park Service. The Chicago Urban League was organized in 1916 to help African Americans find jobs and housing and to help those who had migrated from the rural south adapt to urban life. Later, the league became involved in labor, civil rights and urban renewal movements. The Chicago Urban League is an independently run affiliate of the National Urban League. Its records provide rich insight into urban life and racial issues in Chicago.

The exhibit is located in the Special Collections and Archives Department, Daley Library (3rd floor south), open Monday-Friday 10:00 am to 4:30 pm and the second Saturday of each month, 10:00 to 2:00 pm. Additional materials are on display in the Reference Department (2nd floor) and the Map Department (3rd floor north). An online version of the exhibit also is available., field_56ba6f8fdb00c

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