Leonard’s story is representative of what was described as de facto segregation in the New York City school system, in which many of the schools were essentially all white or all black because of the neighborhood in which they were located, and the quality of the education was not equal among the schools.
On Feb. 3, 1964, Civil Rights activists such as Bayard Rustin, who helped organize the Freedom Rides down south and the March on Washington in 1963, made the New York City school system the site of their next demonstration. They boycotted the schools for a day. More than 450,000 students didn't go to school, and picketers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to demonstrate in front of the Board of Education building.
To read the full story on the boycott, see the Brooklyn Eagle.
Apparently parents and activists who are displeased with the school system in New York are still utilizing the same protest techniques. The Eagle also has an article today about a planned boycott of a Crown Heights school this Monday.