Home > Uncategorized > February 3 – New York School Boycott of 1964

February 3 – New York School Boycott of 1964

On this day, February 3, 1964, 464,000 Black and Puerto Rican students took part in the New York School Boycott… TEN years after Brown vs. Board of Education made segregation of public schools illegal.

In one of the largest demonstrations of the Civil Rights movement, hundreds of thousands of activists 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.

While not “officially” segregated, a number of factors made segregation in New York’s public schools an unofficial reality.   The Parents’ Workshop for Equality in New York City Schools, led by Milton Galamison unsuccessfully tried to lobby the New York City Board of Education to implement integration timetables.

In 1964, the Workshop called upon Bayard Rustin to organize a one-day protest and boycott of the city’s public school system.  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.  Additionally, 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…

Nearly 5 decades later, how much has actually changed?  Read these excerpts from two articles dated 1964 and 2006:

From “The New York School Crisis” by Jeremy Larner, published March 1, 1964:

“Efforts of the Board of Education in the past six years to eliminate blatant gerrymandering and allow some voluntary transfers have reduced by a third the number of schools where Negroes and Puerto Ricans are less than 10% of enrollment.  But the problem gets more difficult all the time, as is indicated by the fact that 52% – an outright majority – of the city’s 1st graders are Negro or Puerto Rican…

The Board of Education says the facts are essentially beyond its control; the civil rights groups say they are the facts of a racist society, and must in all justice be eliminated by whatever means possible.”

From “Segregated Schools: The Shame of the City” by Jonathan Kozol, published January 16, 2006:

“It is impossible to improve the inferior quality of the education that minority children receive without confronting the fact that they are attending increasingly segregated schools; separate is still unequal. Yet that is exactly what New York policymakers are trying to do. Until it begins to follow the lead of several smaller cities across the country, New York’s school system will continue to fail to serve the majority of its students.”

For full articles, click here:

thanks for reading,


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