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Boston Media Looks Back on 40th Anniversary of Busing Crisis

WGBH, WBUR and Boston.com share videos and audio commentary about the 1974 busing crisis in Boston now that four decades have passed. Black parents finally won their case to desegregate Boston’s public schools when federal District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity ruled in their favor in June and the Boston public schools were ordered to immediately integrate come September. The integration process was marred by aggressive protests and boycotts by parents who did not want their children attending integrated schools.

It’s somewhat challenging to watch videos and look at pictures that show violent protestors, many of whom threw stones at passing school buses and police officers in riot gear. It was a painful time in Boston’s history.

According to reporter Bruce Gellerman of WBUR many children did not show up to the first day of school when court-ordered busing was in effect. Regina Williams was one of the African-American students who was bused from Roxbury to a nearby South Boston school and what she saw was scary for a 14 year old to witness.

“I had no idea what to expect [with] this busing thing,” Williams said on WBUR. “I didn’t know anything about South Boston. I didn’t know anything about, you know, they didn’t like us. I didn’t know anything that was in store for us. But when we got there, it was like a war zone."

“I think the prejudice was hidden here. And then when busing came, everything went crazy,” said a commentator on a Boston.com video.

WGBH host and reporter Callie Crossley reflected on the time that has passed since 1974 and what has changed and what has remained unchanged.

Now four decades later, we reflect on an anniversary some know nothing about, some would like to forget, and others dismiss as a social engineering experiment. As the adage goes, those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. Four months ago City Councilors Bill Linehan, Stephen Murphy and Sal LaMattina demonstrated long held antibusing sentiment by voting present on a resolution to recognize the importance of Brown versus the Board of Education, ignorantly conflating the national school desegregation law, with the desegregation crisis in Boston. Their vote is a reminder that true change is never easy, and that time alone cannot make a difference.

For the full videos and stories, visit WGBH, WBUR and Boston.com.

 

 

 

 

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