The ends of desegregating Boston public schools did justify the means of busing. I mean, look at us now, in at least every school we have some form of diversity. I know that busing created a lot of problems, including protests, fights, students dropping out, and even people getting evicted from their homes. However, we should blame this on the racist white people who didn’t want their kids to go to school with black people instead of blaming it on busing and desegregation itself. I admit, having your child go to a school outside of your neighborhood, especially a low-funded school, is not easy to swallow. Yet, this also brings light to the disparity between black schools and white schools, and instead of getting mad at the school system for “busing”, they should’ve focused on funding these schools as well.
That’s why I believe that desegregation was a worthy goal. It was obvious that schools that had the majority of black kids or kids of color were not properly funded and did not have the same level of education as white-majority schools. If we left it as it is fifty years ago, nothing would’ve changed. While it’s true that middle-class black people could’ve had a better education that’s on par with some white people, what about the other poor black children that couldn’t afford this? At the same time, it’s also not just black and white, Hispanic and Asian communities also had a hard time with busing, but not one of them had a major outrage as white people did. It all ties back to racism. In the end, it’s not “busing” or “desegregation” that burned down Robert Lewis Jr.’s house, it was his white friend, egged on by his other white classmates.
One solution that could’ve remedied this whole situation was providing funding for the schools in black neighborhoods. Most white parents were angry because they did not want their children to be in schools that were “bad”, so the best solution was to make these schools “better”. I also think they should have done better to address the racism. The North has been known to be more “tolerant” and “open-minded” than the South for centuries, yet Boston is protesting desegregation. What happened to equality for all? There’s also that racist BPS Superintendent, Louise Day Hicks, whose sons went to a private school yet she thinks she has an opinion on public schools. Public school literally meant “for the public”, aka anyone can attend, so why is she trying to bar black children from attending white public schools? They definitely should’ve diminished her power by some means since she was the person who was riling up the majority of the white parents.
If I was in school in 1974-1975 and I got bused somewhere beyond my community, there’s an 80% chance that I would’ve experienced racism, assuming that I’m a grown-up kid that is. I think that middle schoolers/high schoolers experienced a lot more conflicts compared to elementary schoolers. In the essays written by 6th graders at the Holmes Elementary School, they mainly talked about the parties they had, the field trips they went on, and how they were excited for the next school year. On the other hand, high schoolers in South Boston were brawling with one another every single day, and black students even had to deal with the mob standing wait outside. This shows how racism is taught. Little kids didn’t care about the “race” of their new friends, they got along just fine. High schoolers, who were older, were affected by their parents’ mindsets. If I was a student in the desegregation era, I’d rather just be a kid, I can’t fight and I sure as hell can’t deal with racists throwing rocks at me.
The most visible effect of desegregation today would be the increase in diversity. For example, Boston Latin Academy. If we pulled up a chart of the student body now, it would be around 25% black, 25% white, 25% Asian, 25% Hispanic, and others. Boston Latin School is less diverse. I remember it was a majority white and Asian before 2022, but the diversity of today’s sixie class and 8th graders have gotten a lot better. If there was never desegregation and no busing, I’m willing to bet that BLS and BLA would’ve been at least 80% white today and 20% other. One reason that BLA is so much more diverse than BLS is because it’s located in Dorchester, a predominantly black/Hispanic community with some Asians living there too. On the other hand, BLS is very far from Dorchester and it’s closer to South Boston and Back Bay, which are predominantly white. However, we are making progress compared to the late 1900’s, and that’s all that matters.