Chicago Freedom Movement

Fulfilling the Dream

Coordinating Council of Community Organizations

The Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO) was the local Chicago organization that partnered with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to launch the Chicago Freedom Movement.

The details of the organization’s founding are uncertain. Its first major actions were sit-ins, boycotts, and marches against Chicago school superintendent Benjamin Willis in the early 1960s. Willis adopted a policy of minimizing interaction between black and whites students in Chicago’s huge public school system. Schools in black neighborhoods under his superintendentship suffered from overcrowding. Willis responded not by reallocating pupils but by employing mobile classrooms and double sessions at predominantly black schools.

By 1964, the CCCO was headed by a black schoolteacher, Albert Raby, who soon became a full-time leader of the organization. The CCCO was a coalition of local civil rights groups, including the Chicago Congress of Racial Equality, Chicago Area Friends of SNCC, the Chicago Catholic Interracial Council and the Chicago Urban League. [Encyclopedia of Chicago, “CCCO”]

The presence of the CCCO as a powerful local organizing body was crucial to Chicago’s selection for SCLC’s first major Northern campaign. Still, the differing goals of the two organizations, and differences in opinion between local and national organizations, led to frequent disagreements between the two groups on the course on the movement. The CCCO dissolved in late 1967, shortly after the end of the movement and the resignation of Raby as convenor.


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