Roberta Galler was everywhere.


Kartemquin Films, the group known most for their award winning movie Hoop Dreams, is making a film about the 1963 Chicago school boycott.

The boycott was known as Freedom Day.

As part of the process of making the film that have gone on social media, posting pictures of those who participated in the events and asking help in identifying and contacting them.

A picture of Roberta Galler was posted on their site.

Roberta Galler was born in Chicago in 1936. After contracting polio in 1946, she spent long periods of time in hospitals for surgery, as well as at Warm Springs, Georgia, a healing center founded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1920’s, where she first encountered racism, because “there were no black children there.” Determined to overcome the limits of her disability, she became a star student and activist in high school. On leave from the University of Chicago in 1961, she managed the northern student movement journal, New University Thought, which chronicled events in the southern civil rights movement. Meeting Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) people through the journal inspired her to help form Chicago Friends of SNCC, becoming its first executive secretary.

Impressed with her fundraising, organizing, and press outreach work, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party chairman Lawrence Guyot invited her to Mississippi in the fall of 1964 to open the first statewide MFDP office there. Trying to set up the Congressional Challenge, Galler worked around the clock, joking that she went to jail in Jackson in 1965 to rest. Later she traveled around the state doing political education workshops, came North to do fundraising, worked with Curtis Hayes on the Freedom Information Service, and returned to Chicago at the time of the 1968 Democratic convention. In the early 1970s, she helped set up the Center for Constitutional Rights and worked with the anti-war movement. She later returned to school and became a psychoanalyst. She lived in Manhattan, where she maintained a private practice and was active with the Center for Independence of the Disabled.

This afternoon I got a message from our friend Donna Blue Lachman:

Check this out.’63 Boycott The photo, in the middle, is my cousin, Roberta Galler who died yesterday. She was in Memphis… everywhere w/ Polio since she was 10. She organized the boycott.  Kindred Spirit of yours, I think.

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