posts 1 - 15 of 29
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 288

Readings: Read at least 3 of these 6 (your choice as to which ones you read, though you are certainly welcome to read all)

(I have linked PDFs of these articles in Google classroom for those who hit the paywall from the Boston Globe or The Atlantic ☹ )


Meghan E. Irons, Shelley Murphy, and Jenna Russell, “History Rolled in on a Yellow School Bus,” Boston Globe, September 6, 2014.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/09/06/boston-busing-crisis-years-later/DS35nsuqp0yh8f1q9aRQUL/story.html OR https://drive.google.com/file/d/1syyYP4YyodGsXHcgE7C9dJtZOvED8J6d/view?usp=sharing


Farah Stockman, “Did Busing Slow the City’s Desegregation?” Boston Globe, August 9, 2015.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/08/08/did-busing-slow-boston-desegregation/5HXQbNFyuvD0SV4UdhNgAL/story.html OR https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SJY3mT2HLkjZ3T5qk2UJZgpu32CNd_zP/view?usp=sharing


Farah Stockman, “How a Standoff Over Schools Changed the Country,” Boston Globe, December 20, 2015.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2015/12/20/how-standoff-over-schools-changed-country/oP7xEwikHvdAgjtc0lfNdN/story.html OR https://drive.google.com/file/d/13Oaq9udIFlOFVDTqRTfc6-Y4FXFD3p8b/view?usp=sharing


Michael Patrick MacDonald, “Whitey Bulger, Boston Busing, and Southie’s Lost Generation,” Boston Globe, September 2, 2014.

http://www.michaelpatrickmacdonald.com/articles-backend/2016/9/2/whitey-bulger-boston-busing-and-southies-lost-generation


“Echoes of Boston’s Busing Crisis,” WGBH, Fall 2014. Students (now adults) reading the essays they wrote while 6th graders in 1974 at the Holmes Elementary School in Dorchester. [NOTE: Currently you cannot listen to the folks read their essays but if you click on the thumbnail image of each essay, you will be able to see the typescript of each short essay] http://projects.wgbhnews.org/busing-letters/


Matthew Delmont, “The Lasting Legacy of the Boston Busing Crisis,” The Atlantic, March 29, 2016.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/the-boston-busing-crisis-was-never-intended-to-work/474264/ OR https://drive.google.com/file/d/16pVJxSS1bWTJUTcZq76eEZT7GyTrCraD/view?usp=sharing


To understand the effect of the desegregation ruling of 1974 and its effect on the Boston public schools beginning in school year 1974-1975, you have to understand the state of schools in the city prior to 1974 AND to understand the demographic tidal wave that resulted as well.


In 1972, when the Morgan v. Hennigan case, charging that the School Committee had discriminated against their children, was filed in US District Court by black parents, there were 96,000 students in the Boston Public Schools. Approximately 60% of them were white. By 1988, the number of students in the BPS dropped to 57,000. At that time 24% of the students were white, 48% were black, 19% were Hispanic, and 8% were Asian. As of 2018, there are 56,000 students in 125 schools: 14% are white, 34% are black, 42% are Hispanic, 9% are Asian with 1% identifying as other/multiracial.


So to say that there has been a seismic shift in the population of the BPS would be an understatement at best.


In class (on Wednesday), we are looking at the very important segment from Eyes on the Prize (from the “Keys to the Kingdom” episode) on Boston busing [for anyone who was absent, here’s a link to an online version of the film via Kanopy, which you can access using your Boston Public Library account; you want to watch from 0:36 to 29:48]. You will also be looking at several additional short clips on this topic in class on Thursday.


Using these readings as well as the film(s) we looked at in class, weigh in on the following questions (and respond to what at least one previous student in the thread had to say):


  • Did the ends (desegregating the Boston public schools) justify the means (busing)?
  • Was desegregation a worthy goal or not?
  • Did change need to happen in the Boston Public Schools or were there other solutions to the remedy prescribed by Judge W. Arthur Garrity?
  • Can you imagine going to school in the environment of 1974-1975? What would have been tolerable? What would have been intolerable?
  • What do you see as the most visible effects today of the desegregation era of 1974-1975?
Yiddeon
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 17

Boston's Legacy of Desegregation

Desegregation is and was worth fighting for. The cautionary tale of Boston did not do it well. The fact that kids were put in danger should supersede everything else even if you are trying to help those kids. The change was necessary, and Boston could not have been a functioning city without this desegregation. Without integration, a substantial portion of the population would be getting worse schooling than the other portion. What was interesting to see was that after the parents of the black kids saw how much danger their children were in they started to lose heart in the idea, and who could blame them as their children were experiencing the worst hate crimes ever seen in Boston. In conclusion, it was a noble goal but as the saying goes, ¨The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.¨


I could imagine going to school at that time because BLS is not that different from then. It is not nearly as bad as it was but it is not good either. I would find going to school of entirely one race intolerable. It would be exhausting to hear the same opinions over and over again. It would shape me poorly and it would make my views of the world one dimensional. The desegregation movements of that time shaped Boston to make it what it is today. My elementary school was very diverse, and there is now a school like O’Bryant which is a good school that is reflecting the Boston population more realistically. Not enough has been done. The advanced work programs are full of the most advantaged, white, kids. The tutoring programs to get into BLS which are a necessity for many kids are out of the question for many more, and of course two of the three exam schools have a strong majority of white kids at them. A lot was done in the 70s but more change is necessary.

no-one
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Desegregation was certainly a worthy and important goal: diversity is important in schools as is equal access to a high-quality education. However, in my opinion the way that it happened was not well planned and endangered the students for whom it was supposed to be a benefit. As we saw in the Eyes on the Prize video, the students may have suffered immense psychological and physical harm from this experience: certainly they must have feared for their lives going to school each day in that kind of environment. Also, the situation described in Southie in MacDonald’s Boston Globe article suggests that the schools that black students were bussed to were not much better than the ones back home and the economic situation in South Boston was generally just as bad.


I think if the busing had been directed to another area, perhaps much of this conflict could have been avoided. However, change certainly needed to happen in the BPS system and without a court order I believe that desegregation would not have happened at least until much later, so this sort of federal mandate was absolutely necessary. Even with the court order, the school board under Louise Day Hicks still tried to avoid following it, so in any other situation it seems they would have no trouble avoiding desegregation for as long as possible.


Going to school in an environment like that is almost unimaginable. As a white person obviously my experience would be much less severe than the black students who were bused into white neighborhoods, but even so I think having so much tension, fights happening every day, etc. would make a “normal” school experience impossible. From my perspective now, it’s honestly impossible to even envision how I would act in such an environment (especially imagining that I was going to high school in the 1970s and had grown up in that culture rather than this one). In hindsight it’s easy to say that you would be an upstander or an ally and do something to deter racist violence, but you can never know how you would act if you were really put into the situation.


There are definitely lingering effects of this process today: the lawsuit in the 1990s that led to the elimination of racial consideration from the BLS admissions process and has led to the massively disproportionate demographics of BLS today used the same rhetoric that the anti-busers used in the 1970s (14th amendment rights, etc.) and is certainly connected to the issue. It’s hard to know if we will ever be able to truly desegregate the schools and root out inequality for good, but seeing this history definitely makes it clear how important it is.

Clover52
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

I think that the main goal of desegregation is incredibly worthy. It was so important for desegregation in schools to happen, but I believe busing was one of the worst ways to go about it. The hatred that the busing left behind is still so prominent in our life that I think it was never a good idea at all. If the Boston Public Schools board of education had come up with another way to desegregate schools, I believe that it would have been so much more effective and less dangerous. Desegregation absolutely needed to happen, if it never did, today’s world would have looked so much more divided and different. However, I think Judge W. Arthur Garrity made a crucial mistake in only enforcing the busing across the city. If I were to be going to school in 1974, I think it would have been absolutely awful. To grow up and be surrounded by that much hatred would have been so detrimental to me and everyone else as we can still see today. I think some of the most visible effects seen today are probably the division between neighborhoods in Boston. Southie was one of the focuses of the articles about busing and all of the students bused in from Dorchester or Roxbury could state the amount of violence and hatred they endured because of the people living in Southie. Even today, it is still one of the most “segregated” neighborhoods in Boston, showing the deep root of hatred caused by the Boston Busing.

dollarcoffee
Boston, MA
Posts: 27

Desegregation needed to happen in the Boston Public School system, but the way it was implemented was detrimental to the safety of children in BPS and wasn’t well thought through. Desegregation is obviously a worthy goal, and all students in BPS in 1974 deserved equal access to high-quality education throughout the city. The article in the Atlantic talked about how the per-student spending in 1950 was $340 for white students, and only $250 for white students, showing how white schools received much more attention and funding than black schools, and it was obvious that desegregation needed to happen.


Although busing was one way to desegregate the schools, it did end up causing a lot of harm to students across the city. I feel as though Judge W. Arthur Garrity did have good intentions to desegregate, but due to him not being from Boston, he didn’t properly understand the political situation he was sending the children into. He was from Wellesley, and I don’t think he knew the city well enough to make a plan to desegregate the city. The Globe article by Farah Stockman highlighted how busing not only raised racial tension in neighborhoods but sparked outright violence between neighbors in places where they had previously coexisted peacefully as neighbors and friends. Another way busing negatively affected Boston was shown in the article about Whitey Bulger, and how he used the busing to create an “us against them” mentality among the poorer white population of South Boston. There were incredibly high dropout rates, which created high school dropouts willing to work for Bulger. This “us against them mentality” was promoted by Bulger. increased ignorance and miseducation, which causes hatred. Change obviously needed to happen in the Boston Public Schools, but busing caused a lot of damage, the effects of which we can still see today.


I think going to school in the environment of 1974-75 would be incredibly difficult. As a white person, I wouldn’t go through the struggles or outright hatred the black students experienced, but it seems like it was less of a school environment at that time and more of a politically charged detention. I found an interview with someone whose siblings went to the South Boston High School at the time, and she details how the students didn’t have prom, or cheerleading, or sports games, or student council. Although these may seem like small things to us, they were little things the students in those two years lost, and it definitely affected them. It also would be hard to deal with the opinions of people outside of school, as going to school at that time was almost a political statement, like that one mom from Eyes on the Prize talked about.


One of the most visible effects for me of the desegregation era is some of the poorer Irish American adults who I loosely know who are around 60 years old, and hold very traditional values even though they’ve lived in Boston their entire lives and work in diverse workplaces. After reading the article on Bulger, it helped me connect the two things.

dollarcoffee
Boston, MA
Posts: 27

Originally posted by Clover52 on October 24, 2021 11:53

I think that the main goal of desegregation is incredibly worthy. It was so important for desegregation in schools to happen, but I believe busing was one of the worst ways to go about it. The hatred that the busing left behind is still so prominent in our life that I think it was never a good idea at all. If the Boston Public Schools board of education had come up with another way to desegregate schools, I believe that it would have been so much more effective and less dangerous. Desegregation absolutely needed to happen, if it never did, today’s world would have looked so much more divided and different. However, I think Judge W. Arthur Garrity made a crucial mistake in only enforcing the busing across the city. If I were to be going to school in 1974, I think it would have been absolutely awful. To grow up and be surrounded by that much hatred would have been so detrimental to me and everyone else as we can still see today. I think some of the most visible effects seen today are probably the division between neighborhoods in Boston. Southie was one of the focuses of the articles about busing and all of the students bused in from Dorchester or Roxbury could state the amount of violence and hatred they endured because of the people living in Southie. Even today, it is still one of the most “segregated” neighborhoods in Boston, showing the deep root of hatred caused by the Boston Busing.

I agree with your statement about the long-lasting effects of the busing crisis and the hatred resulting from it, especially the hatred still present in Southie. I think this is also an effect of the Bulger era, as a lot of those high school dropouts are around 60 or older, making them old enough to be our grandparents, and teach the hate they've learned to their kids.

Peverley
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Boston, race, redlining, and desegregation: What do we make of its legacy?

Desegregation has been and always will be not only a worthy goal, but a necessary one to better both our education systems and the upbringings of future generations of children. Drastic change definitely needed to be made in Boston, particularly in the 70s, because the allocation of funds across schools was clearly along a racial divide and even though it was the law after Brown vs. Board of Education, most schools remained majority either white or black. I think that the thought behind busing was nobly intentioned, however it’s implementation caused so much animosity and it further polarized the city. I think that a better way of going about it, if using the concept of busing at all, would have been to start slowly, rather than going with Garrity’s decision to change everything all at once. Maybe starting with elementary school children so as to normalize it before they were old enough to become violent and be strongly influenced by their parents' opinions on the matter. If children grew up with busing (or simply better integrated schools) I think that they would be far more accepting of it as they got older rather than having their lives drastically changed in their teens.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like going to school in the mid-70s but from the stories I have read about and the videos I have watched, I can believe that I would have been afraid to go to school. It was terrifying to watch people throw bricks and stones and hurling slurs at little kids just trying to get to school and blaming them for all of the problems that busing was causing. I don’t think that I could tolerate seeing my classmates treated in such a manner and it would definitely upset me. Busing in Boston was so intertwined with the racial and economic issues that the city was struggling with, but before it happened, poverty often acted as a connection between races (like poor Irish-Americans in Southie and Black people in Roxbury). However, busing broke these connections and separated the kids by race alone and I think that it would have been a very confusing time to be a young child seeing people that once all got along and were even good friends suddenly turn against one another, particularly because it got so extreme (use of Molotov cocktails, stabbings, gang violence, etc.).

Today, I think the most visible effects are definitely the BPS numbers and demographics. The fact that there used to be 96,000 children in the BPS system back then and now we only have about 56,000 shows how many families fled to the suburbs or put their kids in private/parochial schools. This led to a huge demographic shift from the percentage of white children in BPS going from 60% to 14%. There was also a change in the make-up of neighborhoods due to the fact that people were driven out of their homes because of violence and fear-mongering. This led to Boston becoming an even more segregated city and people created their own havens in different parts of the city where they would be safe and they wouldn’t be attacked for simply sending their children to school.



Peverley
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Originally posted by Yiddeon on October 20, 2021 20:23

Desegregation is and was worth fighting for. The cautionary tale of Boston did not do it well. The fact that kids were put in danger should supersede everything else even if you are trying to help those kids. The change was necessary, and Boston could not have been a functioning city without this desegregation. Without integration, a substantial portion of the population would be getting worse schooling than the other portion. What was interesting to see was that after the parents of the black kids saw how much danger their children were in they started to lose heart in the idea, and who could blame them as their children were experiencing the worst hate crimes ever seen in Boston. In conclusion, it was a noble goal but as the saying goes, ¨The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.¨


I could imagine going to school at that time because BLS is not that different from then. It is not nearly as bad as it was but it is not good either. I would find going to school of entirely one race intolerable. It would be exhausting to hear the same opinions over and over again. It would shape me poorly and it would make my views of the world one dimensional. The desegregation movements of that time shaped Boston to make it what it is today. My elementary school was very diverse, and there is now a school like O’Bryant which is a good school that is reflecting the Boston population more realistically. Not enough has been done. The advanced work programs are full of the most advantaged, white, kids. The tutoring programs to get into BLS which are a necessity for many kids are out of the question for many more, and of course two of the three exam schools have a strong majority of white kids at them. A lot was done in the 70s but more change is necessary.

I agree that busing was well intentioned and that desegregation was more than necessary. I can't imagine what it must have been like as a parent not knowing if your child was safe at school and seeing the violence committed against really young kids every day must have been a terrifying experience, especially given that the students were in no way responsible for any part of the situation.

no-one
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Originally posted by Yiddeon on October 20, 2021 20:23

Desegregation is and was worth fighting for. The cautionary tale of Boston did not do it well. The fact that kids were put in danger should supersede everything else even if you are trying to help those kids. The change was necessary, and Boston could not have been a functioning city without this desegregation. Without integration, a substantial portion of the population would be getting worse schooling than the other portion. What was interesting to see was that after the parents of the black kids saw how much danger their children were in they started to lose heart in the idea, and who could blame them as their children were experiencing the worst hate crimes ever seen in Boston. In conclusion, it was a noble goal but as the saying goes, ¨The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.¨


I could imagine going to school at that time because BLS is not that different from then. It is not nearly as bad as it was but it is not good either. I would find going to school of entirely one race intolerable. It would be exhausting to hear the same opinions over and over again. It would shape me poorly and it would make my views of the world one dimensional. The desegregation movements of that time shaped Boston to make it what it is today. My elementary school was very diverse, and there is now a school like O’Bryant which is a good school that is reflecting the Boston population more realistically. Not enough has been done. The advanced work programs are full of the most advantaged, white, kids. The tutoring programs to get into BLS which are a necessity for many kids are out of the question for many more, and of course two of the three exam schools have a strong majority of white kids at them. A lot was done in the 70s but more change is necessary.

I agree with your point that endangering the children went contrary to the entire point of desegregation, and that the way in which it was done ended up being harmful. However, I don't agree that our situation is just as bad as it was then. At Boston Latin School, separate from the conflict in South Boston and the busing situation, maybe things were not so different numerically (though certainly the environment has become much a more welcoming and diversity-encouraging one, though there is a long way left to go), but in the parts where the racist violence and verbal abuse was at its highest I don't think we can say that our situation now is comparable. We are not done, but we have made progress, and that change should be celebrated while further change is still demanded.

SesameStreet444
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

Boston Desegregation Response

On the premise, desegregation in Boston Public Schools is an extremely worthy prospect to advocate for. Regardless of whoever denies it, Boston- along with the entirety of the United States- has had, and continues to have deeply rooted economic, social, and racial inequities that have resulted in an uneven distribution of educational opportunities for varying families. To strive for a more equal and opportunistic structure of learning is, on its own, a very honorable goal, as proper education plays a major role in marginalized groups moving forward in society. That being said, the execution of this desegregation in 1974 was, in short, a complete disaster, for not only did minorities and disadvantaged families not receive much benefits, but many people, especially children, ended up suffering lifelong consequences from the ordeal. In Farah Stockman's article about busing slowing down desegregation, she uncovers the realities of what black people had to endure in the midst of the racially heated political debacle. Many black families had their houses defaced or even destroyed, and children's lives were put in danger on a daily basis. In Michael Patrick MacDonald's article, the tragic outcome of Southie's poor white population is revealed, as many dropped out of high school in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, opting for a lives of of drug use and crime instead. While the intention of busing was for children to have a higher quality of education, it resulted in quite the opposite.

I think that change definitely needed to happen in Boston Public Schools, but Garrity's solution was both redundant and too quickly executed. Yes, there was more integration in schools, but the backlash and mass outrage that ensued only widened racial divisions in Boston. Given Boston's history, it should have been taken more carefully into consideration that there would be fierce retaliation on behalf of the white population. I think a slower approach into desegregation would've better sufficed, as its effects wouldn't have been so shocking or sudden to the families involved.

I could never imagine going to a Boston Public school in the late 1970s, as the malevolent and hateful environment would be too much to bear. The prominence of racism still exists in our educational system today, but for it to be so openly encouraged by politicians such as Louise Day Hicks would be both heartbreaking and incredibly dangerous. Tolerating hateful people is one thing, but fearing for my life every day just by going to school seems like an unimaginable burden, and yet it's what so many students tragically had to face at the time.

I feel that there is still a strong presence of segregation in Boston, even if it isn't as heavily publicized as it was in the 1970s. As of today, there still isn't much diversity in the majority of neighborhoods, all of which continue to hold a large population of only one singular ethnic group. Despite the efforts made, Boston still has much work to do in regards to diversifying its neighborhoods and distributing equal forms of education among its youth.

SesameStreet444
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

Originally posted by Peverley on October 24, 2021 16:27

Desegregation has been and always will be not only a worthy goal, but a necessary one to better both our education systems and the upbringings of future generations of children. Drastic change definitely needed to be made in Boston, particularly in the 70s, because the allocation of funds across schools was clearly along a racial divide and even though it was the law after Brown vs. Board of Education, most schools remained majority either white or black. I think that the thought behind busing was nobly intentioned, however it’s implementation caused so much animosity and it further polarized the city. I think that a better way of going about it, if using the concept of busing at all, would have been to start slowly, rather than going with Garrity’s decision to change everything all at once. Maybe starting with elementary school children so as to normalize it before they were old enough to become violent and be strongly influenced by their parents' opinions on the matter. If children grew up with busing (or simply better integrated schools) I think that they would be far more accepting of it as they got older rather than having their lives drastically changed in their teens.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like going to school in the mid-70s but from the stories I have read about and the videos I have watched, I can believe that I would have been afraid to go to school. It was terrifying to watch people throw bricks and stones and hurling slurs at little kids just trying to get to school and blaming them for all of the problems that busing was causing. I don’t think that I could tolerate seeing my classmates treated in such a manner and it would definitely upset me. Busing in Boston was so intertwined with the racial and economic issues that the city was struggling with, but before it happened, poverty often acted as a connection between races (like poor Irish-Americans in Southie and Black people in Roxbury). However, busing broke these connections and separated the kids by race alone and I think that it would have been a very confusing time to be a young child seeing people that once all got along and were even good friends suddenly turn against one another, particularly because it got so extreme (use of Molotov cocktails, stabbings, gang violence, etc.).

Today, I think the most visible effects are definitely the BPS numbers and demographics. The fact that there used to be 96,000 children in the BPS system back then and now we only have about 56,000 shows how many families fled to the suburbs or put their kids in private/parochial schools. This led to a huge demographic shift from the percentage of white children in BPS going from 60% to 14%. There was also a change in the make-up of neighborhoods due to the fact that people were driven out of their homes because of violence and fear-mongering. This led to Boston becoming an even more segregated city and people created their own havens in different parts of the city where they would be safe and they wouldn’t be attacked for simply sending their children to school.



I agree that Boston is still heavily segregated to this day. If you take a drive through the city, you can clearly witness the racial distinction between each neighborhood, as if they've all drawn a line in the sand marking their own territories.

stylishghost
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Originally posted by dollarcoffee on October 24, 2021 15:38

Desegregation needed to happen in the Boston Public School system, but the way it was implemented was detrimental to the safety of children in BPS and wasn’t well thought through. Desegregation is obviously a worthy goal, and all students in BPS in 1974 deserved equal access to high-quality education throughout the city. The article in the Atlantic talked about how the per-student spending in 1950 was $340 for white students, and only $250 for white students, showing how white schools received much more attention and funding than black schools, and it was obvious that desegregation needed to happen.


Although busing was one way to desegregate the schools, it did end up causing a lot of harm to students across the city. I feel as though Judge W. Arthur Garrity did have good intentions to desegregate, but due to him not being from Boston, he didn’t properly understand the political situation he was sending the children into. He was from Wellesley, and I don’t think he knew the city well enough to make a plan to desegregate the city. The Globe article by Farah Stockman highlighted how busing not only raised racial tension in neighborhoods but sparked outright violence between neighbors in places where they had previously coexisted peacefully as neighbors and friends. Another way busing negatively affected Boston was shown in the article about Whitey Bulger, and how he used the busing to create an “us against them” mentality among the poorer white population of South Boston. There were incredibly high dropout rates, which created high school dropouts willing to work for Bulger. This “us against them mentality” was promoted by Bulger. increased ignorance and miseducation, which causes hatred. Change obviously needed to happen in the Boston Public Schools, but busing caused a lot of damage, the effects of which we can still see today.


I think going to school in the environment of 1974-75 would be incredibly difficult. As a white person, I wouldn’t go through the struggles or outright hatred the black students experienced, but it seems like it was less of a school environment at that time and more of a politically charged detention. I found an interview with someone whose siblings went to the South Boston High School at the time, and she details how the students didn’t have prom, or cheerleading, or sports games, or student council. Although these may seem like small things to us, they were little things the students in those two years lost, and it definitely affected them. It also would be hard to deal with the opinions of people outside of school, as going to school at that time was almost a political statement, like that one mom from Eyes on the Prize talked about.


One of the most visible effects for me of the desegregation era is some of the poorer Irish American adults who I loosely know who are around 60 years old, and hold very traditional values even though they’ve lived in Boston their entire lives and work in diverse workplaces. After reading the article on Bulger, it helped me connect the two things.

I agree, and busing may not have even been a viable way to desegregate becyase of the number of kids protesting or havign their saftey put at risk, leading to a high percentage of drop outs.

poptarts
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22

Originally posted by dollarcoffee on October 24, 2021 15:38

Desegregation needed to happen in the Boston Public School system, but the way it was implemented was detrimental to the safety of children in BPS and wasn’t well thought through. Desegregation is obviously a worthy goal, and all students in BPS in 1974 deserved equal access to high-quality education throughout the city. The article in the Atlantic talked about how the per-student spending in 1950 was $340 for white students, and only $250 for white students, showing how white schools received much more attention and funding than black schools, and it was obvious that desegregation needed to happen.


Although busing was one way to desegregate the schools, it did end up causing a lot of harm to students across the city. I feel as though Judge W. Arthur Garrity did have good intentions to desegregate, but due to him not being from Boston, he didn’t properly understand the political situation he was sending the children into. He was from Wellesley, and I don’t think he knew the city well enough to make a plan to desegregate the city. The Globe article by Farah Stockman highlighted how busing not only raised racial tension in neighborhoods but sparked outright violence between neighbors in places where they had previously coexisted peacefully as neighbors and friends. Another way busing negatively affected Boston was shown in the article about Whitey Bulger, and how he used the busing to create an “us against them” mentality among the poorer white population of South Boston. There were incredibly high dropout rates, which created high school dropouts willing to work for Bulger. This “us against them mentality” was promoted by Bulger. increased ignorance and miseducation, which causes hatred. Change obviously needed to happen in the Boston Public Schools, but busing caused a lot of damage, the effects of which we can still see today.


I think going to school in the environment of 1974-75 would be incredibly difficult. As a white person, I wouldn’t go through the struggles or outright hatred the black students experienced, but it seems like it was less of a school environment at that time and more of a politically charged detention. I found an interview with someone whose siblings went to the South Boston High School at the time, and she details how the students didn’t have prom, or cheerleading, or sports games, or student council. Although these may seem like small things to us, they were little things the students in those two years lost, and it definitely affected them. It also would be hard to deal with the opinions of people outside of school, as going to school at that time was almost a political statement, like that one mom from Eyes on the Prize talked about.


One of the most visible effects for me of the desegregation era is some of the poorer Irish American adults who I loosely know who are around 60 years old, and hold very traditional values even though they’ve lived in Boston their entire lives and work in diverse workplaces. After reading the article on Bulger, it helped me connect the two things.

I agree that the means of desegregating the schools was definitely not thought through enough and there could have been a more efficient and less violent way. If there was more of a push for desegregation in schools by the school board I think it would have went a lot more smoothly compared to what happened.

goldshark567
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

I think that desegregation was 100% a worthy goal. Having children of all races go to school together and have the same educational access and opportunities was needed and still is needed. Change definitely needed to happen in the Boston Public Schools because there were clear disparities between predominantly white schools and predominantly black schools. White schools had more money, resources, better teachers, etc. So, it was crucial that something was done in Boston to change this. However, I do not think that busing students between Roxbury and South Boston was an effective way of doing so.

The issue was that there was so much resistance to the busing. Students who were bused faced so much hatred and violence, while the city of Boston was becoming more divided, rather than unified. Michael Patrick McDonald discusses how Whitey Bulger used busing as a tool because it helped unite the white people in South Boston by pitting them against black people as a collective.

I can’t imagine going to school in the environment of 1974-1975. Students were put in very hostile environments, which was traumatizing. Children who were once friends found themselves surrounded by people who pointed to white and black people being enemies by default. In Farah Stockman’s Boston Globe article, they describe Robert Lewis Jr.’s story of a childhood friend who firebombed his house, one of many violent acts done to houses of black families in his neighborhood once busing began. His family, among many others, was forced out of neighborhoods that were more diverse and moved to majority black neighborhoods where they felt safer.

Today, Boston’s neighborhoods and schools are still largely segregated, if not more so than they were before the 1970s. There was so much pain caused by the busing era and seemingly few payoffs. Almost 50 years later, BPS is still struggling to integrate its schools. It’s interesting to think about what Boston would look like today if Judge W. Arthur Garrity had not ordered the busing to take place. Would the city be less divided than it is now?

goldshark567
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Originally posted by Yiddeon on October 20, 2021 20:23

Desegregation is and was worth fighting for. The cautionary tale of Boston did not do it well. The fact that kids were put in danger should supersede everything else even if you are trying to help those kids. The change was necessary, and Boston could not have been a functioning city without this desegregation. Without integration, a substantial portion of the population would be getting worse schooling than the other portion. What was interesting to see was that after the parents of the black kids saw how much danger their children were in they started to lose heart in the idea, and who could blame them as their children were experiencing the worst hate crimes ever seen in Boston. In conclusion, it was a noble goal but as the saying goes, ¨The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.¨


I could imagine going to school at that time because BLS is not that different from then. It is not nearly as bad as it was but it is not good either. I would find going to school of entirely one race intolerable. It would be exhausting to hear the same opinions over and over again. It would shape me poorly and it would make my views of the world one dimensional. The desegregation movements of that time shaped Boston to make it what it is today. My elementary school was very diverse, and there is now a school like O’Bryant which is a good school that is reflecting the Boston population more realistically. Not enough has been done. The advanced work programs are full of the most advantaged, white, kids. The tutoring programs to get into BLS which are a necessity for many kids are out of the question for many more, and of course two of the three exam schools have a strong majority of white kids at them. A lot was done in the 70s but more change is necessary.

I agree that there is still so much work to be done in BPS and at BLS specifically when it comes to increasing diversity. However, I don't think we can compare our school experience to that of students who experienced busing in the 70s, because what they went through and the hatred, violence, trauma, etc. they may have faced is something we will never fully understand.

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