Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Education and Opportunity

1967 Student Demonstration

A black and whit photograph of the front of the Philadelphia Board of Education building. The image only shows the front of the building and some of the landscaping near the entrance. There is one tree to the left of the building, and a field of grass in front of the building's entrance.


Although Philadelphia’s Board of Education passed a resolution in 1959 against discrimination based on race, many of Philadelphia’s schools remained segregated. Philadelphia’s public schools were predominantly African American in the 1960s and had to conform to curricula and policies established by white educational leaders. In 1967, around 3,500 Philadelphia high school students walked out of their classes and staged a demonstration in front of the Board of Public Education, pictured here on Twenty-First Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The demonstrators urged the district to adopt a more Afrocentric curriculum, teach black history, and rename some high schools after prominent African American leaders. Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo ordered two buses of police officers to watch over the peaceful demonstration and later use force to quash it. Twenty-two people were injured in front of the School Board building and 57 people were arrested. Some arrests occurred when students left Twenty-First Street and vandalized cars and other property as they fanned out into the surrounding neighborhood and the downtown shopping district.

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