Malcolm X speaking at a
boycott rally against the New York City Board of Education on March 16, 1964.
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.
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 on February 3, 1964.
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.
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. Another boycott was held on March 16, over 250,000
participated in the second boycott.