Immediately after the June 11 sit-in, a “Freedom Stay-Out” Day was announced, organized by the Mass Freedom Movement headed by James Breeden and Noel Day. Students were to boycott school for one designated day, showing the Boston Public School (BPS) how large a community the sit-in members represented. The first announcement of the boycott came at the Boston Conference on Religion and Race, where more and more churches were recognizing segregation in Boston schools. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, churches provided an important space and role in supporting activists and groups that were working for desegregation.
The chosen day was June 18, 1963, and over 8000 students participated. Parents and other adults picketed the BPS offices while the participating students attended “Freedom Schools.” Celtics player Bill Russell spoke at a rally that afternoon in support.
A second “Freedom Stay-Out” Day was held on February 26, 1964. At this rally, comedian and activist Dick Gregory spoke, and then spoke at Freedom Schools the next day. For the second Freedom Stay-Out Day, a different statement was being made, and activists requested the following:
- White parents and children participate by coming to our Freedom Schools on Freedom Stay-Out Day.
- Freedom Schools be set up in areas outside our community on that day.
- Children from our community be invited to Freedom Schools outside our community on that day.
Later in 1966, events like “Freedom Graduation” were held. At one event, Celtics player Bill Russell also spoke.